Washington — The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to remove rules that have protected consumers’ and businesses’ internet access. While the exact rules have changed over the years as internet technology evolved, the principles of nondiscrimination and preventing a big Internet Service Provider from blocking or throttling internet traffic, known as net neutrality, have been respected — until today.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated on internet access and competition issues for over two decades including recent comments to the FCC and legal briefs supporting the 2015 Open Internet Order, which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld just last year. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“Instead of preserving the Open Internet Order, the FCC in its so called “Restoring Internet Freedom” order is enhancing the “freedom to discriminate” by removing effective restraints on many types of Internet discrimination. It’s disturbing and sad that the agency that Congress created to oversee communications networks and protect consumers would instead vote to remove the protections that have enabled the internet to be such a catalyst for free speech and economic growth.
“The FCC’s own chief technology officer acknowledged (Wednesday) that he is concerned there is nothing to stop companies from throttling internet traffic. The new Order only requires them to be transparent, but there is no real limit on what they can and cannot do. The FTC might be able to have jurisdiction over the matter if there is harm to consumers based on competition grounds, but even that is a legal uncertainty.
“We have every reason to be concerned about big incumbents selling special internet capacity — and those who can’t afford it won’t have the same access. It’s not realistic to think that these companies would spend many millions lobbying for the FCC to agree to abdicate its authority to protect open internet rules — and then not use their market power to recoup that money from customers.
“The battle for an open internet now heads to court, and we plan to be part of that effort.”