"The Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression."Congratulations and thank you to the civil society actors who acted to help protect an open internet.
Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, February 26, 2015
Center for Democracy and Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
Media Action Grassroots Network
National Hispanic Media Coalition
Open Society Foundation
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Stanford Center on Internet and Society
Barbara Van Schewick
and many, many others.
This a key marker of Digital Civil Society. It counts as a victory both for and of the space. The organizations above, most of which are nonprofits, and the hundreds of thousands of people (millions?) who mobilized through these organizations, with these organizations, or simply in proximity to these organizations came together to protect the right to association and expression on equal terms in digital environments. They formulated, organized for, petitioned and persisted in enacting public policy that protects our right to come together and be heard with digital tools and on digital infrastructure. [Here's a new report on how it happened] An effect of the FCC ruling to govern the internet and wireless devices under Title II will be continued fair access to digital space for civic association and expression.
It is also a marker of the arrival of an effective, distributed, diverse set of civil society actors built from and dedicated to a digital environment. The actions that made this policy happen are truly "of" the digital age - they are informed by it, shaped by it, and committed to it.
Essentially, with this victory civil society made its own continued existence possible.
This is not the first time (nor will it be the last) that civil society has preserved it's own potential. The history of public spaces and parks, of the First Amendment, of libraries and information access, of rural telephony - these histories precede today's accomplishment. And the accomplishment is more important because of those roots. It is truly an extension of longstanding, core values of democracy into the digital environment and not the compromise of those values by technological complexity or corporate preemption.