by Matt Wood, Policy Director, Free Press
*This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium on the FCC’s net neutrality rules.
Working for an organization that’s helped lead a decade-plus fight on a single set of policy issues, it’s hard to know where to begin.
I could just start in the present. After all, intervenors and amici supporting the Federal Communications Commission’s rules filed at the DC Circuit just last week. My organization was one of almost two dozen parties joining that intervenors’ brief.
Over the past ten years, Free Press has written extensively on these topics, focusing on issues like communications network nondiscrimination principles, common carriage fundamentals, broadband investment realities, and the proper legal treatment for broadband networks under federal communications law.
That’s too long a history to choose from if I’m going to say anything coherent in a short post. So I’ll make it even harder and start in 1946.
Why so far back? Because of a Supreme Court case called Marsh v. Alabama, a decision about public sidewalks owned by private companies. That case has always reminded me of common carrier communications networks (and law school – but that’s another story).
To be sure, the questions surrounding Net Neutrality pre-date the modern “Open Internet” era at the FCC, in cases much closer to home for the agency. Beginning in the early 1960s, it started wrestling with questions about how to treat computer services offered over phone networks.