News from the Field

A primer on net neutrality from the Benton Foundation

Update as of Dec. 14, 2017—The FCC voted 3-2 today to repeal net neutrality regulations intended to keep the internet open and fair. “It is not going to destroy the internet,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, responding to the groundswell of support from the public and internet businesses for net neutrality. “It is not going to end the internet as we know it. It is not going to kill democracy. It is not going to stifle free expression online.”

Many disagree that statement—83% of Americans, in fact. But a coalition of net neutrality advocacy groups are already looking for both congressional and legal responses to the FCC ruling.

In a statement today from the Benton Foundation—which works in the communications policy space—Executive Director Adrianne Furniss said: “The FCC’s Republican majority abandons those protections and ignores bipartisan public support for the 2015 rules, displays a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology, and misinterpret U.S. communications law—a trifecta of governmental malfeasance.”

Meanwhile, Media Impact Funders, in collaboration with the Benton Foundation, will be hosting a call to discuss these issues. Stay tuned for more details about registration, but mark your calendars today for the call on Jan. 11, 2018, from noon-1 p.m. ET. 


Dec. 12, 2017—In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted net neutrality rules to keep the internet free and open, allowing anyone and everyone to share and access information of any kind without interference. Now, just two years later, all of that is threatening to unravel. This Thursday, Dec. 14, the FCC will vote on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to kill net neutrality, which would allow broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to block, speed up or slow down content, charge more for services, and generally make it harder for all groups of people to communicate online. Foundations working in the communications policy space are following this issue closely. The Benton Foundation has a wealth of analyses and news on the topic of net neutrality. Here’s a look at some recent pieces that address the issue from a range of angles. They’re worth reading ahead of this week’s vote.

A deeper look at the FCC’s proposal.
Unpack FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal with this weekly roundup that lays out the current state of affairs. Benton associate Robbie McBeath highlights three major criticisms to the proposal, including banning states from adopting net neutrality rules of their own. McBeath also sums up what we can expect to see after Dec. 14. Read more.

In defense of the open internet: An impassioned speech by Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
“You want a movie, [the broadband providers] deliver it. They don’t edit the movie on the way or swap out a happy ending for a sad one. They just deliver it. That is a telecommunications service…it is important that the law is this simple.” Read more.

A call for responsive leadership.
In this editorial, Executive Director Adrianne Furniss praises the FCC’s transparency in releasing Pai’s proposal, but is remiss over its dismissing the public’s outcry. She asks: “What difference does it make, if the public learns about changes to their broadband service on November 23 or December 14 if, in the interim, the FCC refuses to be responsive to the concerns everyday citizens express about your proposal?” Read more.

Internet companies are concerned.
Internet businesses—companies whose sole means of reaching us is online (think Netflix, Google, Etsy, etc.) say a loss of net neutrality would severely impede their ability to deliver their services, attract and retain customers, and thrive. Here, they list the myriad consequences of removing the 2015 regulations. Read more.