On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission approved a net neutrality policy that would, in FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s words, ensure “that no one—whether government or corporate—should control free open access to the Internet.” Following this decision, a number of erroneous news reports have mischaracterized our support for the net neutrality movement, drawing attention away from those who spoke out for a free and open Internet.
The Ford Foundation is proud to stand with the millions of Americans who have raised their voices on this issue. Here are the facts: Our grants to organizations working to preserve net neutrality have averaged around $4 million a year over the past 10 years. That’s a small fraction of the tens of millions spent each year by Internet service providers to end the fair and open Internet we have enjoyed for 25 years.
What made the difference in this public policy debate was the public—a broad, bipartisan majority of the American people, 80 percent of whom opposed Internet providers being able to create fast lanes for certain web content, with a slow lane for the rest. They understand the web as a kind of 21st-century town square, where our rights and responsibilities are equal. Supported by citizens, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and elected officials across the spectrum, the FCC ruling safeguards the free exchange of information, makes it harder to discriminate between ideas, and preserves a level playing field for innovation and competition. What could be more American?