Public Knowledge Challenges Reckless FCC Net Neutrality Rollback


Today, the Federal Register published the Federal Communications Commission’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” Order. The Order rolls back the agency’s net neutrality rules, and abandons the agency’s longstanding, bipartisan commitment to broadband oversight, including protecting the Open Internet and ensuring that internet service providers do not discriminate against online content or services. Public Knowledge is filing suit in federal court to challenge this action today.

The new Order eliminates the net neutrality rules (“no blocking, no throttling, and no fast lanes”) that have protected the Open Internet, and takes away the FCC’s authority over broadband more generally. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC leading up to the 2015 Open Internet Order, and millions of Americans have opposed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to roll back these rules since he announced it last spring.

Public Knowledge opposes Chairman Pai’s deeply troubling break with almost 20 years of bipartisan FCC support for the Open Internet, and even more radical abandonment of FCC broadband authority. Public Knowledge encourages all Americans to contact their representatives to demand that Congress overturn the FCC’s reckless mistake.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The impact of this Order is clear: By eliminating its rules and oversight role, the FCC has given broadband providers the green light to press forward with anticompetitive and anti-consumer business models. With this action, the FCC has put us all at the mercy of local monopoly broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon. All we are left with is Big Cable and Big Telco telling us to ‘trust them’ not to violate net neutrality principles.

“There will be consequences as broadband providers begin exploiting this newfound power. Americans should closely monitor their broadband and online service bills, as some sites and web services may have to pay for prioritized access online -- and will ultimately pass those costs on to consumers. Furthermore, broadband providers now have the authority to sell broadband like they sell cable television, where the company decides where you go online and sets packages and tiers which require more money to reach more of the internet. Broadband users now also lack even the most basic privacy protections, with even FTC oversight of broadband provider practices under challenge in the courts.

“Despite the hard blow Chairman Pai has dealt to the Open Internet, small businesses, and consumers, the fight for net neutrality continues. Today, Public Knowledge is filing a challenge to the FCC’s action in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where we are confident that the FCC’s illegal and procedurally flawed action will be rejected.

“We also urge Americans to contact their representatives and demand that they support overturning the FCC’s net neutrality repeal through the Congressional Review Act. Chairman Pai may have ignored millions of Americans, but he can’t ignore Congress -- or the courts.”

What happens now:

  • Challengers have 60 days to file suit against the FCC, and 10 days to file to be part of the “multi-district lottery” that determines which court will hear the challenge when multiple plaintiffs file in different courts. Public Knowledge is filing suit today.
  • It is currently unknown when the Order goes into effect. A further notice from the FCC, and OMB approval, are required first.
  • Congress has 60 legislative days to use the Congressional Resolution of Disapproval (CRA) to overturn the repeal.

You may join the conversation on the CRA using #OneMoreVote as part of our February 27 Day of Action to save net neutrality.

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