Press Release Net Neutrality

FCC’s Approach to the D.C. Circuit’s Remand Fails to Promote the Public Interest

October 6, 2020 , ,
newspapers

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai published a draft Order that would reaffirm the agency’s 2017 net neutrality repeal. The vote is a response to a 2019 remand by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Mozilla v. FCC ordering the agency to address how its net neutrality repeal could harm public safety, pole attachments, and even the Lifeline program.

The net neutrality rules created by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order prevented broadband providers from blocking websites, throttling web traffic, or creating “fast lanes” only for those able to pay for prioritization. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC, and more than 80 percent of Americans consistently say they support restoring the protections the FCC adopted in the 2015 Open Internet Order. Chairman Pai’s FCC repealed these rules in 2017, effectively stripping Americans of these consumer protections that are so fundamental in an increasingly online world.

Public Knowledge, a litigant in Mozilla v. FCC, has consistently fought for strong net neutrality rules and will continue urging the public to speak out about the importance of a free and open internet.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge:

“The Commission’s draft does not show how its reckless move to abandon oversight of broadband can adequately promote public safety, universal service, and access to infrastructure by broadband providers (pole attachments). Rather, it has concluded that deregulation is more important than achieving those goals. This is consistent with the practice of the Commission under Chairman Pai, which continues to ignore the growing harms of failing to exert its authority over broadband, despite the chorus of Americans demanding affordable, equitable access to broadband that is reliable, secure and open.

“The draft order dismisses real public safety harms as irrelevant, and genuine fears as ‘speculative,’ as though its own predictions of how public safety would be affected by the Commission’s abandonment, for the first time, of oversight of broadband providers was anything but that. It concedes that broadband-only internet service providers will lose access to pole attachment rights but simply doesn’t care — failing to foresee the obvious future where most ISPs are broadband-only. Its approach to universal service similarly depends on ISPs perpetually offering regulated services as a means of qualifying for support.  

“The Commission’s answers to the questions that the D.C. Circuit remanded to it are inadequate, and represent an abandonment of its statutory goals. These are fatal flaws for the Pai FCC’s radical and untested deregulatory agenda. It is increasingly clear that oversight of broadband to ensure public safety, universal service, and an open internet should be a top priority for Congress. Voters have shown that they demand it.”

For more information on why we strongly opposed the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, you may view our recent blog post, “Two Years Later, Broadband Providers Are Still Taking Advantage of An Internet Without Net Neutrality Protections.”