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Today, the Federal Communications Commission published its Open Internet Report and Order. The order details strong rules designed to prevent Internet Service Providers from blocking, throttling or using paid prioritization to control how Americans use the internet. Public Knowledge commends FCC Chairman Wheeler for delivering on his promise to protect the Open Internet for the American people.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President of Government Affairs:
“After months of conducting a transparent and open process, Chairman Wheeler and his colleagues at the FCC should be congratulated on the release of the text of their Open Internet Order. In alignment with standard FCC practice under the Administrative Procedures Act, this is the public’s chance to see the details of the rules and the legal reasoning behind them. An initial review shows that the order uses Title II to deliver the strong rules the Chairman promised and consumers expect. It includes simple and clear bright-line rules of no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. It prohibits unreasonable interference with consumer Internet use and strengthens transparency requirements. The Order also shows that the decision is rooted in the opinions, arguments, and legal reasoning of almost 4 million people in the extensive record gathered through this transparent process.
“The text of the Order also clearly identifies what the FCC is and is not doing in this important decision. The Order does not create new fees and taxes for consumers. It does not create rate regulation or tariffs. The FCC was careful to forbear from 27 provisions of Title II and over 700 rules and regulations. This effort creates strong protections for consumers without harming the investment that has driven the growth of the Internet into the essential communications tool for the 21st century. It is no wonder that it has such broad support from technology companies big and small, non-tech companies, racial justice and public interest groups, some Internet Service Providers, venture capitalists and investors.
“Unfortunately, around 80 pages of the 400 page document is filled with dissents from Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly that distort the truth around the process that the FCC conducted and attempt to discredit the consensus that there should be strong Open Internet rules. Commissioner O’Rielly continues to claim that the need for Open Internet rules is an “imaginary problem”, ignoring examples of ISP throttling and blocking in the past. He claims the idea of a virtuous cycle of investment driving growth of the Internet is “nonsense” even though it has been cited by the D.C. Circuit Court and previous FCC decisions. However, what is truly insulting to the millions who commented at the agency is Commissioner’s Pai’s insistence that the driving force behind the decision to reclassify is President Obama. We appreciate President Obama’s support for strong rules based on Title II, but I doubt the President and the majority of the FCC would have had the courage to make this decision without the legal reasoning and clear opinions filed by millions of Americans.
“Public Knowledge will continue to do an in-depth review of the text of the Order over time, but in the meantime Americans can now read the Order themselves and decide: Does this restore clear rules that prevent big cable and telecom companies from serving as gatekeepers over Internet traffic? We believe they do.”