1. The Federal Communications Commission has approved its strongest network neutrality rules yet.
2. Three Democrats, including chairman Tom Wheeler, voted for the rules. The two Republicans dissented.
3. The new rules reclassify internet access so it will be regulated like a public utility.
4. The rules apply to both home broadband connections and the wireless networks that power smartphones.
…net neutrality was of intense interest to a small portion of the population, but largely ignored by the rest. In those conditions, the people with power and money usually win. And this may be the most important lesson of this fight for activists: if you want to beat a well-funded opponent, get some wealthy allies of your own….
…the real opponents were the cable and ISP companies. They don’t want to be regulated like utilities; they’d rather have the freedom to charge whatever they want to whomever they want. They may not yet be saying to Home Depot, “Give us this many millions of dollars and your web site will load fast on our customers’ computers, while Bob’s Hardware’s website won’t,” but they wanted to reserve the right to do that some time in the future. These companies have billions of dollars to spend and huge lobbying clout.
But the activists were able to partner with an equally well-heeled group: Internet companies like Google and Netflix, the ones who feared getting shaken down by the ISPs. While we can’t rewind history and see if this battle could have been won without them, there’s no question that when Silicon Valley came calling, the administration listened, not only because it’s a vital industry but also because of all the millions of dollars tech companies and their employees give to Democrats….
So there’s your sad-but-true takeaway. If you’re up against deep pockets in a political fight, it helps to have some on your own side too.