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People Power Is Winning Net Neutrality

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Reprinted from The Nation

Can the people ever win in an new age of oligarchy, when corporate power is so frequently and thoroughly unbound?

Yes, sometimes, they can.

After years of bumbling, blustering and bureaucratic attempts to avoid necessary action, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to move on Thursday to defend net neutrality. According to the design and technology blog Gizmodo, "It's Finally Game Time for Net Neutrality." The more staid Wall Street Journal explains that the commission majority is moving to "fully embrace the principle known as net neutrality" -- the "central element" of which "would be a ban on broadband providers blocking, slowing down or speeding up specific websites in exchange for payment."

Translation: The FCC is preparing to defend the Internet as we know it against subdivision by profiteers who would create a "fast lane" for paying content from multinational corporations and billionaire-backed politicians and a "slow lane" for communications from those who are not on the winning side of the income-inequality chasm.

This is a good thing for citizens, for consumers and for businesses that seek to compete on the merits of their products and services -- rather than to shut down competition with crony-capitalist deals and the monopolies that extend from them. So good, in fact, that Free Press president Craig Aaron calls the expected FCC embrace of net neutrality "one of the most important victories for the public interest in its history."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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