To Protect Open Internet FCC Must Correct Classification Mistake

BY Heather Greenfield
July 15, 2014

Washington – The Computer & Communications Industry Association filed detailed comments with the FCC today articulating the best legal and policy framework to meaningfully protect Americans’ access to an innovative and open Internet. CCIA said no-blocking and no-discrimination rules must be adopted to preserve the Open Internet.

The tech trade association recommended that the FCC rely on its Title II telecommunications authority to adopt rules “that ensure that the end users of mass market, broadband Internet access can obtain, from any source, whatever lawful content they choose, and can likewise upload and transmit to any Internet destination of their choice.”

For decades CCIA has monitored competition issues that impact the technology industry and has been especially focused on preventing the abuse of power in the telecommunications and Internet access market. The filing offers detailed legal analysis to provide the FCC with information both on the competition issues at stake here and the most solid legal path to achieve their stated goal of preserving the Open Internet.

CCIA has long stressed the importance of an Open Internet and has appreciated the FCC’s historic commitment to this most fundamental consumer and business issue for the 21st century.  The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“Court and FCC decisions left a gap in the legal safeguards to protect consumers’ access to an open Internet. The FCC now has the chance to fix that by relying on its authority under the 1996 Telecom Act – and we hope they do it.

“Companies that want to use their power to privately regulate the Internet themselves so as to maximize their profit leverage are distorting reality with their claims which confuse ensuring Internet access opportunity with Internet regulation.  At best, it is negligent to mix up this core difference between the Internet infrastructure and traffic that flows on top of it. At worst, it is an intentionally cynical, misleading attempt to sidetrack the debate. Open Internet rules are not regulation of the Internet itself.

“Curtailing regulation of the activities on the Internet by both governments and powerful companies must be a goal of all those truly committed to an Open Internet.

“Using the words ‘regulation of the Internet’ is a simplistic, pejorative and misleading way to create political division among FCC members and Congress.  Those who understand how the Internet works know there is a difference between regulating the Internet itself and the last mile network connection to the Internet — which is the issue the FCC is actually considering and taking comments on.

“We want careful, targeted rules to ensure that consumer choice is not unfairly regulated by a few powerful private special interests and to protect the basic function of two way telecommunications on which the entire Internet ecosystem depends.”

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