TIME technology

Five Ways Net Neutrality Supporters are Winning the Debate

Protesters hold a rally before the FCC meeting on net neutrality proposal in Washington, DC.
Protesters march past the FCC headquarters before the Commission meeting on net neutrality proposal on May, 15, 2014 in Washington. Bill O'Leary—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Proponents of net neutrality are winning the public debate, although that doesn’t mean they’ll win the policy fight.

A new report (PDF) released today by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation shines some light on the debate about net neutrality that’s playing out in Washington, DC these days.

The Federal Commission is expected to release new rules on net neutrality—the idea that Internet Service Providers should treat all web content equally—sometime next year.

Here are some highlights from the report.

1. Men loooove net neutrality. By analyzing news reports, blogs, Twitter, and about a third of the 3 million comments submitted to the FCC this year, the report found that 69% came from men, and 63% from metro areas.

2. And pretty much everyone else on the Internet loves it, too. Let’s put it this way: if you took all the public comments about net neutrality that you could find on Twitter and all the public comments submitted formally to the FCC, and you put a yellow dot on a map for all those in favor of net neutrality and a green dot for all those against it, the entire map would be yellow.

3. The public does not find the concept of net neutrality confusing. Sure, the infrastructure of the back-end of the Internet is complicated, but when it comes to articulating their opinions on net neutrality, the public isn’t intimidated. Of the 1.1 million comments to the FCC that the report analyzed, 40% were “unique responses.” That means that people took the time to write down their own thoughts on the issue, rather than just submitting a form letter prepared by an advocacy group. “This is higher then the typical 10 to 20 percent seen with other regulations,” the report said.

4. Instead of expensive lobbying, net neutrality advocates rely on pushing the public debate. Organizations hoping to get the FCC to pass the strictest-possible rules on net neutrality have staged protests, bought advertising, and launched sophisticated social media campaigns to win public support on the issue. But while they used to have a lock on influencing the public, that’s starting to change. Comcast, for example, “has recently pushed through corporate announcements and advertisements to promote their own open internet philosophy,” the report found.

5. Even the big ISPs lobbying on the issue claim to be in favor of net neutrality. Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, among others, have collectively spent $238 million on lobbying, according to the report, which analyzed roughly 2,500 disclosures from 2009 to the second quarter of 2014. While most ISPs claim their lobbying efforts are pro net-neutrality, their definition of net neutrality generally differs a bit. For example, the ISPs think web companies should pay for special, faster, or prioritized access to web users; pro-net neutrality advocates say such “paid prioritization agreements” ≠ net neutrality.

MONEY Tech

How Comcast Plans to Boost Your Internet Bill With New Fees

Comcast building
Matt Rourke—AP

"People who use more should pay more, and people who use less should pay less," Executive VP David Cohen told investors in May.

Comcast COMCAST CORP. CMCSA 1.5633% has begun testing data caps in certain markets and plans to make what it prefers to call “usage-based” billing standard policy across the country within the next five years.

Previously, in nearly all cases, Internet data was an unlimited flat-rate, all-you-can-eat buffet. Under its new plan, which Comcast has already rolled out in a number of test cities, the company will sell users a flat amount of data and then charge them overages. This will take a system where customers had cost certainty and replace it with the model that has served the cell-phone industry so well — one where subscribers pay more if they go over a set limit.

“People who use more should pay more, and people who use less should pay less,” Executive VP David Cohen told investors in May, BGR reported.

That sounds correct on the surface, and charging more for data over a certain amount may be a necessity in a world where so many of us are streaming video content over our broadband connections as part of our daily lives. But the cable companies, which are also Internet service providers (along with the phone company ISPs), have a poor track record when it comes to billing. Data caps may be logical, and Comcast, which is waiting federal approval of its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable TIME WARNER CABLE INC. TWC 2.0225% may be going about things the right way, but consumers are right to be wary about what this means for their bill.

What is Comcast doing?

Comcast has been testing two different plan pricing strategies in an expanding number of markets (there are variations and differences depending upon the market). One potential plan offers set amounts of data starting at 300 GB for a fixed price, with additional data being sold in 50 GB blocks for $10. The second plan targets low-volume users and offers them 5 GB of data at a set price, but there is a twist. Customers enrolled in this plan, called the “Flexible Data Option,” receive a $5 credit if they use less than 5 GB in a month but pay $1 per extra GB they use.

With the larger plans, Comcast appears to be making every reasonable effort to allow customers to track where they stand when it comes to data usage. People on the 300 MB or bigger plans will receive an email to their primary Comcast user email address when they reach 90% and 100% of their monthly allotment. In some markets you can also arrange to be notified when you reach 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 110%, and 125% of your usage. It’s possible in some markets to set up notifications via text message, and the company will also make an automated phone call to its customers when they pass 100% for the second month in a row.

The company also provides an online usage meter where customers on all tiers can track how much data they have consumed.

For subscribers to these more expensive plans, Comcast appears to be making a reasonable effort to help people avoid overages. The same can’t be said for the Flexible Data customers who are specifically not currently included in the notification system. That means that the customers choosing the cheapest plan are the ones most likely to be blasted with costly, unexpected overages.

Comcast should opt for total transparency

Under these plans, Comcast can profit by charging reasonable overage fees to its higher-data customers on 300 GB and above plans and by hitting its lower-end users with prices per GB for overages that are five times higher. Comcast may need to do this as more customers use more data and strain increases on its infrastructure. But if capping data and adding overage charges is really about maintaining network integrity, the company should warn all customers when they are getting close to their allotment and require authorization to add more data for the month.

There’s a way to do this right, if it truly needs to be done at all, and it involves putting choice in the hand of the customer and not using a data cap to inflate people’s bills without their consent. Comcast can still charge more and better control its resources — which is good for the company — while ensuring that its subscribers retain control over their expenses and avoid monthly billing surprises.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 24

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A bipartisan plan in North Carolina shrunk prison population and cut costs while the crime rate continued to fall. Can it serve as a model for other states?

By the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments

2. In international development, the massively scaleable transformative idea is usually too good to be true.

By Michael Hobbes in the New Republic

3. Net Neutrality could have a big impact on the future of healthcare, from telemedicine to electronic medical records.

By Darius Tahir in Modern Healthcare

4. Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us from climate change. We need new ideas.

By Ross Koningstein & David Fork in IEEE Spectrum

5. We must understand and counter the major trends fueling the ranks of Islamic radicals.

By Maha Yahya in the National Interest

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME technology

FCC Chair Signals He Won’t Follow Obama’s Lead on Internet Rules

Barack Obama, Tom Wheeler
In this May 1, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with then nominee for Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

"What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

A top federal regulator is considering a split with President Barack Obama over a controversial Internet policy, according to a new report, in what could set up a big fight between the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources who were present, sounded a different note than Obama when addressing a room full of tech executives after the President made his statement Monday. “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told executives from several major tech companies, including Google and Yahoo. “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.”

Obama on Monday made his strongest statement yet in support of Net Neutrality, the principle that all content should be treated equally online. However, the FCC is an independent agency that’s not required to follow the President’s lead on policy matters.

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME legal

Comcast Just Trolled Us All on Net Neutrality

National Cable and Telecommunications Association Cable Show
The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp., right, speaks during a news conference at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Comcast says it agrees with President Obama on net neutrality. It doesn't.

Oh, Comcast.

The country’s largest Internet provider wants you to know that it “agrees with the President’s principles on net neutrality,” as a headline on a Tuesday afternoon blog post from EVP David Cohen reads. Net neutrality is the idea that all Internet content should be treated equally in terms of speed, a concept that’s in jeopardy because of a Supreme Court decision at the beginning of this year that struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 Open Internet rules enforcing it.

It’s an attention-grabbing headline from Comcast, a company that net neutrality advocates are making out to be among the most nefarious of the bad guys in the ongoing open Internet debate. Right off the bat, it looks like Comcast is agreeing with President Obama, who on Monday unexpectedly came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility. That’s a move big telecoms like Comcast should hate, because it would give the Federal government more authority to regulate their business. So what’s the deal?

It turns out Comcast’s post is just clickbait.

Cohen’s post claims Comcast agrees with Obama’s goals for an open Internet — no blocking content, no slowing down content, more transparency about network practices and no paid fast lanes. Cohen goes on to say that Comcast disagrees with the President on how those rules should be enforced. There’s a wide gulf here: Obama only made news Monday because he called for the Internet to be reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act, a bold move that would categorize Internet providers as “common carriers” and trigger an all-out legislative and judicial war between telecoms, the FCC and advocacy groups.

Comcast, meanwhile, says the Internet should fall under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which gives the government far less authority to regulate Comcast’s business. So there’s no real agreement here at all.

That aside, the problem with Comcast’s Title II/Section 706 logic is that the FCC tried to use non-Title II authority to enforce its Open Internet rules starting back in 2010. But the courts ruled that wasn’t a valid approach, because the agency had previously and explicitly decided not to classify broadband under Title II — meaning the agency starved itself of the regulatory power it would need to legally enforce those rules. Since that ruling, the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler has been scrambling to find a way to enforce the Open Internet rules without running afoul of the courts.

Comcast, in its blog post, maintains that the courts left the FCC a way of doing that without triggering the Title II nuclear option — but the reality is that scenario is looking increasingly unlikely. Instead, many observers, including the President, see the FCC’s best path forward as reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II, but practice what’s called “forbearance,” or use only the regulatory power afforded under Title II the agency deems necessary to enforce its Open Internet rules. How comfortable you feel with that idea, of course, entirely depends on how much you trust a government agency to practice regulatory restraint.

It’s also worth pointing out that Comcast’s blog post makes it a point to advertise that it already practices the Open Internet rules for which Obama’s arguing — but it’s also legally obligated to do so through 2018 as a condition of its merger with NBCUniversal, a fact that’s missing from the post. Comcast also makes a dubious-at-best claim that it doesn’t “prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes,” even though Netflix is paying Comcast (and, since, other Internet Service Providers) to more quickly deliver Netflix’s content to Comcast subscribers. Whether or not the Comcast/Netflix deal violates “net neutrality” per se is a subject of debate, but that’s splitting hairs: It’s hard to see the arrangement as anything other than a “paid fast lane.”

TIME technology

Conservatives Overwhelmingly Back Net Neutrality, Poll Finds

A poll released today by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA), found that conservatives voters like the idea of net neutrality.

Within a few hours of President Barack Obama’s call on Monday for regulators to ensure strict “net neutrality“—rules requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all Internet content equally—the Republican establishment’s hair caught on fire.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called net neutrality the “Obamacare for the Internet“; House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it was “a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship”; and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Lousiana) said Obama’s attempt to “impose net neutrality regulations on the Internet” was a “radical effort” with “no justification.” To list just a few of the howling reactions.

But according to a poll released today by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA), a pro-net neutrality association of businesses, Republicans and conservatives outside of Washington D.C., seem to think that the idea of net neutrality is actually a pretty good one.

Some 83% of voters who self-identified as “very conservative” were concerned about the possibility of ISPs having the power to “influence content” online. Only 17% reported being unconcerned. Similarly, 83% of self-identified conservatives thought that Congress should take action to ensure that cable companies do not “monopolize the Internet” or “reduce the inherent equality of the Internet” by charging some content companies for speedier access.

The poll did not ask participants about specific methods of regulation, like whether the Federal Communications Commission ought to reclassify consumer broadband Internet as a utility under “Title II”—as Obama has called for—or whether it should use “Section 706″ of the Telecommunications Act, another statute relating to broadband infrastructure.

The poll, explained Andrew Shore, the executive director of IFBA, was designed to “get to the heart” of net neutrality by asking voters whether they believed that the government should prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from charging Internet content companies for special access to Internet customers.

The poll also asked whether voters were concerned that big ISPs—like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T—could influence the government and elected officials in their favor; 72% of self-identified conservatives said yes.

Last year, Comcast—the nation’s biggest ISP by a long shot—spent more on lobbying than any other company in the U.S. except Northrop Grumman, the defense contractor that makes the B-2 bomber. Of the $16.4 million it has spent on lobbying and campaign contributions this year, large chunks have gone to the National Republican Congressional Committee ($104,000); the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($87,975); and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($85,750), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Boehner, who was among the first to slam Obama’s call for net neutrality regulations yesterday, has received $107,775 from Comcast—nearly twice as much as any other other member of Congress. Boehner also holds stock in Comcast, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But big Internet content companies which are in favor of net neutrality regulations, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Ebay, are hardly wallflowers in this debate. So far this year, Google spent $3.9 million in campaign donations and $13.7 million on lobbying.

(The Vox Populi poll surveyed 1,270 active voters on Oct. 26/27, with a margin of error of +/-2.8%.)

Read next: Inside Obama’s Net Neutrality Power Play

TIME The Brief

#TheBrief: The Battle for Control of the Internet

Explaining what 'net neutrality' really means to you — and the future of the Internet

President Obama took to the White House YouTube channel Monday to call for broadband internet providers to be regulated as a utility — a move that signals his support for the concept of “net neutrality“.

What’s net neutrality? It’s the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast or Verizon should treat all content equally. It might not sound like an inspirational cause, but the question of who has rights to control the Internet affects almost everyone.

Cable companies are clamoring for the right to give faster speeds to certain clients, while many content providers are in favor of keeping all data on the Internet on equal footing.

Watch #TheBrief to find out what’s at stake.

TIME technology

How To Neuter the Net Revolution

Computer Hacker Spy
Getty Images

Thomas W. Hazlett is H.H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics at Clemson University.

The Internet can't innovate living under the rules of a 1970s telephone company.

“The Internet revolution has ended just as surprisingly as it began,” writes Professor Lawrence Lessig. “None expected the explosion of creativity that the network produced; few expected that explosion to collapse as quickly and profoundly as it has.” This dirge captures the fears of those who today march for “Network Neutrality” regulation, which would require that all broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all data traffic equally.

Of course, Lessig wrote these words in 2001.

Lessig’s policy pleading then was for “open access,” a precursor of net neutrality. The rules, alas, were not imposed. And yet the Internet did not die in 2001. Indeed, it went into overdrive. Whatever discriminatory power the ISPs possessed, Google arose, with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and the Apple App Store right behind. The unregulated Net rocketed into mobile markets, enveloped smartphones, e-readers and tablets, and grew into what the 2010 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) described, in glowing terms, as “the Open Internet.”

But the pro-regulation offensive gives no quarter: The Open Internet, developed under laissez-faire, is superb. And it now needs regulatory protection.

In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama strongly endorses, in unequivocal language, not the girly man measures previously considered, but a muscle play: Title II. The bureaucratic reference, which dates to the Communications Act of 1934, would affix your great grandfather’s public utility rules — the ones crafted when households had “party lines” and David Sarnoff was the best known “tech innovator” — on the 21st Century Network of Networks.

But we’ve seen this movie — streamed before our very eyes — already. Old-fashioned public utility rules were in place back in the 1960s and 1970s when computer networks began to emerge — and Title II blocked them. The telephone carrier regulations, with monopoly franchises and rate regulation, controlled most everything. Rules were written and enforced to exclude new rivals and the promising networks they envisioned.

The Title II mandates were gradually peeled away, allowing for new “enhanced services” that escaped Title II. The result was spectacular. Looking back in 1999, the Federal Communications Commission regaled its handiwork. An insightful paper by agency expert Jason Oxman, The FCC and the Unregulation of the Internet,” explained that the government’s key contribution was to clear out legacy mandates. “Market forces have driven the Internet’s growth, and the FCC has had an important role to play in creating a deregulatory environment in which the Internet could flourish.”

Oxman explains, for example, that the dial-up operators that kicked off public computer networks initially faced Title II regulations that required the ISPs to pay per-minute tolls to local phone companies, which threatened to stymie the entrants. A forward-looking 1983 reform eliminated this requirement by moving the ISPs from Title II carriers to deregulated enhanced service providers. The “absence of per-minute measured usage charges assessed on ESPs had enormous implications for the Internet,” all of them positive.

More recently, Voice-over-Internet services confronted the prospect of being Title II road kill. The reflex, at both the state and federal level, was to regulate VoIP like POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). The licenses, fees, taxes and other Title II requirements would have crushed the upstart. That is why noted VoIP pioneer, Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Free World Dialup, Vonage, and Zula, waged a war against phone regulation, culminating in victory: the FCC’s 2004 “Pulver Order.” The entrepreneur now rails against Network Neutrality due to “the madness of applying 70-year-old Title II telecom regulations to IP communications.” With such rules, neither dial-up nor VoIP might have happened. “Title II makes innovation illegal,” he wrote recently.

At bottom, the idea that the Internet is everywhere neutral, that all bits are treated equally, is false. Take the polar extreme: AOL’s “walled garden” of the mid-1990s. It restricted users to just the content that the ISP offered. It soon gave way to less restrictive models offered by competitors, but, as Ken Auletta has written, it “helped popularize the web — and…. attracted 34 million paid subscribers in 2002.”

Today, the Internet thrives, but all networks manage traffic. Customers benefit when malware is blocked or sensitive interactive communications (say, VoIP) take precedence. I’m typing this article at a hotspot in a supermarket (no need to pity me), and the User Agreement I just clicked “I Agree” to forbids many legal activities. I may not, for instance, “Transmit any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, ‘junk mail,’ ‘Spam,’ ‘chain letters,’ ‘pyramid schemes’ or any other form of solicitation… [or] Use the Service for excessively high volume data transfers.”

These “non-neutral” restrictions, imposed by my current ISP, do not threaten me — nor economic innovation, consumer welfare, or the life of the Internet. Title II would.

Thomas W. Hazlett is H.H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics at Clemson University, where he also heads the Information Economy Project. He formerly served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME technology

Inside Obama’s Net Neutrality Power Play

President Barack Obama’s decision to call for the strictest regulation of consumer broadband Internet is the result of months of internal White House debate over how to push the Federal Communications Commission to propose stronger Open Internet rules, government and industry insiders familiar with the process tell TIME. The Monday announcement comes days before an FCC deadline on the issue.

Obama’s surprise statement reverberated across the worlds of policy, business and technology, and appeared to shift the momentum in the long-running war over the future of the Internet. It drew a defensive response from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, drove down cable stocks, and juiced the debate between Open Internet advocates and the nation’s biggest cable and phone companies, like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

The question now is whether it will be enough to shift Wheeler and the FCC off their current, more cable-friendly path ahead of a deadline next week for the commission to publish revised rules for consumer broadband Internet. The revised rules would need to be published by Nov. 19 in order for the FCC to vote on them at an upcoming December meeting.

Obama’s statement is a shot across the bow for Wheeler, a former telecom lobbyist and one of the president’s top fundraisers in 2008 and 2012. For the last year, Wheeler has resisted proposing Open Internet rules that would prevent broadband service providers from collecting fees from content companies in exchange for special access to Internet users—an arrangement formally known as “paid prioritization,” but often dismissed pejoratively as “Internet fast lanes.”

The FCC’s latest rules, proposed in April, were widely panned by Open Internet advocates, including powerful Internet companies, like Google, Amazon, and eBay, for allowing for such paid prioritization agreements.

Over the last six months, Obama has increasingly distanced himself from Wheeler and the FCC’s proposed rules. In May, the White House said only that it would “carefully review [the FCC’s] proposal…in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality.” But by October, Obama’s rhetoric was almost impatient.

“My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position,” he said during a speech in California on Oct. 10. “I can’t—now that he’s there, I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about is, is that we expect whatever final rules to emerge to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine.”

Two weeks after Obama’s October speech, Wheeler floated another idea for regulating consumer broadband: a “hybrid approach” that would be slightly stricter on broadband service providers but still allow for paid prioritization agreements. The proposal was again panned by Open Internet advocates for allowing Internet fast lanes while calling them something else.

Frustration with Wheeler’s apparent unwillingness to ban paid prioritization altogether spurred some White House aides to encourage the president to take a more active role in the debate, sources who have been involved with the process tell TIME. For the last several months, Obama and his staff have been studying all of the options available to the FCC to protect an open Internet, according to a White House official.

Tim Karr, who works with Free Press, an Open Internet advocacy organization, said that Obama’s choice to make such a bold proclamation now—just a week after the mid-term elections put Democrats on the defensive—is a powerful signal that his administration will be “willing to take bold executive actions even in a lame duck role.”

It’s also an indication of the influence of the so-called Internet community, which gained political prominence after successfully overturning the SOPA/PIPA legislation in 2011 and, this year, flooding the FCC with four million comments on its proposed rule. “[P]hones have been ringing off the hook at the White House for weeks,” wrote Craig Aaron, the president and CEO of Free Press in a statement.

The White House’s announcement Monday, which took the form of both an open letter and a video, calls on the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act—a move that would give the FCC explicit legal authority over Internet service providers and that most Open Internet advocates say is necessary in protecting future Open Internet rules from inevitable court challenges from the telecom industry. In January, a federal appeals court threw out the FCC’s previous net neutrality rule on the grounds that the agency did not have the legal authority to regulate broadband Internet.

On Monday, Wheeler responded to the White House’s call with a rather defensive note, pointing out that the FCC is an independent agency, before launching into a long explanation of the legal complexity posed by reclassifying consumer broadband services under Title II.

The sentiment was echoed by big Internet service providers, Republican lawmakers, and anti-regulatory advocates, all of whom argued that classifying broadband Internet under Title II is a “nuclear option” that will destroy innovation and undercut private sector investment in Internet infrastructure.

“Reclassification under Title II, which for the first time would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the Internet, would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open Internet, competition and innovation,” a Verizon spokesperson said in a statement.

Comcast vice president David Cohen was similarly alarmed. “To attempt to impose a full-blown Title II regime now, when the classification of cable broadband has always been as an information service, would reverse nearly a decade of precedent, including findings by the Supreme Court that this classification was proper,” he said in a statement.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who is expected to become the Senate Majority Leader next year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) all published statements warning that Title II was a mistake. “The Commission would be wise to reject it,” McConnell said.

“Today’s proposal is a step backward and would slow innovation if implemented,” said Mike Montgomery, the executive director CALinnovates, a San Francisco-based coalition that works on public policy in technology. He added that while “protecting consumers and innovation is a noble cause… we should be creating new laws to deal with new technologies.”

Meanwhile, Open Internet advocates pooh-poohed such concerns. “We are looking for rules that are not burdensome to the Internet’s users,” said Michael Beckerman president and CEO of the Internet Association, an advocacy group that represents Amazon, Facebook, AOL, Netflix, and dozens of other large Silicon Valley firms. “We want to ensure that you don’t need to hire a lawyer or pay a fee” to ensure that your content is reaches all Internet users equally.

Beckerman also warned that while a bit of celebration is in order, the biggest battles—getting the FCC to actually write strong rules—have yet to be fought. “Even if the FCC reclassifies consumer broadband service under Title II, the resulting rules could still allow for paid prioritization agreements,” he said. “We’ll be watching the details closely.”

Read next: All Your Questions About Obama’s Internet Plan Answered

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