FCC Chairman Proposes Getting Rid Of Open Internet Rules

November 22, 2017

Washington — As Americans across the country prepare to bow their heads and give thanks, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a proposal Wednesday that bows to the biggest Internet Service Providers. Pai’s proposed Report and Order eliminates the FCC’s net neutrality rules and gives the Federal Trade Commission the leftovers when Big ISPs start blocking, throttling, or otherwise discriminating against traffic on their networks.  

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has spoken out on this critical issue for over two decades, and has filed legal briefs on this issue, and told the FCC that the best way to preserve internet freedom is for the FCC to maintain the 2015 Open Internet Order, which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld just last year. The FCC draft Report and Order circulated today cited major arguments made by CCIA in its comments and reply comments. However, CCIA still disagrees with the FCC’s conception of its ability to overturn its judicially-approved rules based on two overly-simplistic reviews of industry data.

CCIA met with the FCC last week to explain why the FTC is not equipped to fully replace the FCC on this issue and filed an ex parte. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“The right of Americans to travel and connect anywhere on the Internet without big corporate ISPs regulating their access will be infringed and diminished by Pai’s plan. The wonder and success of the Internet has flourished based upon the foundation and principles of net neutrality.

“As other countries like Europe seek Open Internet rules and the entrepreneurship that comes with them, our FCC Chairman is giving them up. The order the Chairman released paves the way for a full FCC vote in December rescinding net neutrality. It may be a great holiday gift for AT&T and Comcast, but it will be a real loss to the rights and pocketbooks of millions of Internet users and thousands of businesses that have thrived under the current rules that have prevented discrimination.”

“This pre-Thanksgiving proposal would offload oversight onto the FTC’s plate, but here’s the rub: the FCC and FTC are two, different agencies that do two different things. The FTC does not have the same expertise, and it cannot write basic rules of the road for the internet as the FCC has. The FTC’s limited enforcement ability only is available after abusive practices have been underway and the problem has been reported. Pai is taking his agency away from the table for the benefit of a handful of powerful companies, giving consumers and small businesses rotten leftovers.”

For additional background, see Ed’s Thanksgiving Huffington Post piece or op ed in The Hill on why the FCC not FTC is better equipped to deal with a consumer issue involving communications networks.

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