A New Era of Internet Freedom

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By Chip Pickering

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about Americans living between the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791.

In those early years of our nation, people living in the colonies were openly speaking their minds. Newspapers were freely publishing editorials and scathing letters. Families were engaging in worship as they saw fit.

From the day the Bill of Rights was ratified, and each and every day since, our nation has defined itself to the rest of the world based on the protection of those freedoms.

Today we celebrate an important milestone in the decade long debate over Internet freedom. With the DC Circuit denying the stay request yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission’s light-touch open Internet approach becomes the law of the land.

For years, online users and businesses have generally operated without blocking, throttling and aid prioritization — online freedoms they have come to expect. These are freedoms also define the very nature of the Internet as a communications platform. And today, those freedoms are now protected by law.

It is by no means the end to the fight, but it is an important marker just the same.

This morning I awoke and checked my Twitter feed, checked the headlines and sent a few emails. The Internet had not broken. The sky had not fallen. Investments in broadband networks are moving forward. Interconnection agreements are taking place. Even the stocks of the big telecom companies that oppose the FCC open Internet rules were up.

Today in an office park, or a dorm room someone will have an idea for a new company, a new app, a new coalition, or a new campaign. The FCC’s rules that take effect today will preserve and protect the ability of all people to access the Internet, engage in free speech, and reach new audience and new markets.

It’s an Internet principle that we have come to know and love in a relatively short time, because it’s built upon freedoms that have defined our nation for all time.

CEO of INCOMPAS, Former Member of Congress (R-MS), Teacher at Ole Miss, Grateful Dad and Step Dad of 5 young men and 3 young women

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