A federal appeals court decision this week could have serious consequences for people who listen to music online. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on what’s known as network neutrality. Those rules banned Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from slowing or blocking some websites and allowing speedier access to others. Potentially, the ruling means your Internet company could block access to SPIN. Or Spotify. Or any other website.
Various musicians and advocacy groups have long championed net neutrality, which is the principle that all Internet data should be treated equally. R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Kathleen Hanna, and thousands of other musicians have signed on for the Future of Music Coalition’s Rock The Net campaign for online openness, launched way back in 2007.
Casey Rae, interim executive director at the Future of Music Coalition, said in a statement that while the decision wasn’t totally surprising, it’s still a blow. “It has never been more important to have basic rules of the road preventing ISPs from blocking content delivered over the Internet, regardless of how users connect,” he said. “This decision will surely inspire countless other creators and entrepreneurs to make the case for an open and accessible Internet.” Okay, R.E.M., you guys can reunite now.