Public Knowledge to FCC: A Million Comments Later, the Need for Reclassification is Clear

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Today Public Knowledge filed reply comments in the net neutrality proceeding on behalf of ourselves and Benton Foundation. You can see our filing here and our press release here. Our reply comments show how the initial comments (of which there were over a million!) supported our position that the Commission needs to reclassify internet as a Title II telecommunications service in order to protect the open internet. Here are the highlights of our filing:

The American public is deeply engaged with this issue, and views the preservation of the open internet as tied to fundamental American values. Hundreds of thousands of Americans filed in this docket, marking an unprecedented volume of public comments for what would otherwise be an obscure regulatory proceeding of the FCC. But more impressive than the sheer number of comments was the level of engagement: a surprising number of Americans didn’t just follow a script, or recapitulate what they heard on the news, but instead spent time thinking about the issue and putting their concerns into their own words. Those concerns were based in American values of fairness, opportunity, the American Dream, and preserving free expression.

Commenters highlighted privacy concerns that can only be addressed by reclassifying the internet as a Title II service. Some commenters pointed out two important privacy concerns that highlight the need for Title II reclassification: first, that an incomplete nondiscrimination policy would likely lead to ISPs discriminating against encryption technologies, and second, that failing to reclassify would cause the Commission’s (very strong) rules protecting telecommunications customers’ private information to become less and less relevant and effective. We agree with both concerns, and agree that privacy concerns underline the importance of reclassification.

Contrary to what some industry commenters claim, existing antitrust and consumer protection laws are clearly insufficient to protect the open internet. In initial comments, a few industry commenters argued that net neutrality rules really aren’t necessary because antitrust and consumer protection laws are so good at preventing harms to consumers. We thoroughly debunked those claims, explaining how under the current case law, it would be all but impossible for an internet customer who was harmed by content discrimination to bring an antitrust or consumer protection case against an ISP.

Now that the reply comments have been filed, the Commission could make its next move at any time. But the battle is far from over. Please help us continue to fight for robust net neutrality rules in Congress and at the FCC. And if you’re a video creator (or if you’re not but you’ve always wanted to be, and you have a camera!), please join thousands of other video creators in signing our petition for Video Creators for Net Neutrality

Photo Credit Flickr User: Blaise Alleyne.

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