Net neutrality represents an important win for democracy

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC. (Photo credit: ALA Washington Office/Flickr)

Today, over one year after the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules — and after one of the most ferocious advocacy battles in American history — the FCC has formally sided in favor of a neutral Internet.

Net neutrality has proven itself to be a defining point for advocacy in America. Participation in the political process, especially in the more obscure field of administrative procedure, will for generations be defined in the context of the public outcry we’ve all seen on this issue.

That engagement, led by many groups that Sunlight works with – on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the net neutrality issue – was stunning. Millions submitted comments into a system utterly foreign to them in an effort to make their voices heard. Voices so thunderous, they broke the FCC’s website.

Sunlight’s transition to our new president, Chris Gates, also brought a firmer position on net neutrality, inspired in particular by its impact on civic technology. Plainly speaking, our work building tools for better political engagement fundamentally depends on an Internet without tiers, without last-mile prioritization and without limits.

As Gates explained: “The Internet is the ultimate form of civic technology. It’s a shared space for civic participation, information sharing, building networks and organizing community. … [P]reserving the Internet’s open architecture is essential to the health of our democracy.”

Congratulations and thanks to all those who won this impressive fight, both for securing an open Internet, and for forever changing the perceived limits on what influence the American people can have when they fight for what they believe in.