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Keep Internet open to all

The Federal Communications Commission split 3-2 last week on its net neutrality vote, and public opinion is split, also, on whether the commission’s decision to treat Internet Service Providers as public utilities was good policy.

Verizon’s reaction was a classic. It sent out a release in Morse code to complain that the FCC is imposing 1930s rules on the modern Internet. It included a translation “for readers in the 21st century.”

The commission’s action may be clunky, but it seems members were trying to do what most Americans wanted: Ensure that the Internet remain equally accessible to the little no-name startups and to the big service providers like Verizon. The fear, justified or not, was that service providers would go from neutrality to offering fast lanes that cost extra to use.

Time will tell whether making ISPs public utilities hurts innovation. Maybe Congress will get involved now and change the rules again, but the goal should always be keeping the Internet equally open and accessible to all.