Public Knowledge Files FCC Comments to Preserve Net Neutrality Rules

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Today, Public Knowledge will file comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to roll back the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which created strong net neutrality rules that force broadband providers to treat all internet content and services equally. The FCC’s new proposal, if adopted later this year, would reverse the agency’s classification of broadband service as a “communications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, and reclassify broadband as a Title I “information service.” As the courts have previously found, the FCC may only impose rules against blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization of content if it classifies broadband as a Title II service.

The current rules, adopted in 2015 and affirmed by the D.C. Circuit twice, prohibit Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking lawful content, throttling users, creating “fast lanes” for favored content (aka paid prioritization), or generally interfering with a broadband subscriber’s choice of content or web service. Public Knowledge opposes FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s move to gut these rules, which would leave consumers, small businesses, artists, students, hospital patients, low-income families, startups and entrepreneurs unprotected and at the mercy of broadband providers following a slew of mergers and media consolidation.

The following can be attributed to Ryan Clough, General Counsel of Public Knowledge:

“As Public Knowledge’s comprehensive filing of more than 100 pages makes abundantly clear, Chairman Pai’s proposal would remove consumer protections the FCC has explicitly and repeatedly identified as critical to protecting broadband subscribers. It would for the first time explicitly make cable companies the gatekeepers of the internet. To attempt such a dramatic change of policy without even acknowledging the over 20 years of FCC past practice chronicled in these comments is the definition of arbitrary and capricious -- and leaves Pai’s proposal highly vulnerable to reversal in the courts.

“Twice opponents of Title II have pitched their alternate history of ‘light touch regulation’ to the D.C. Circuit in an effort to overturn the FCC’s existing net neutrality rules. Twice the D.C. Circuit has flatly rejected it. Chairman Pai apparently thinks that the third time will prove the charm. Hopefully, Chairman Pai will reconsider his unpopular plan to strip away net neutrality and critical consumer protections.”

For more information on net neutrality, view this explainer from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” our Net Neutrality Issue Page, and Net Neutrality Timeline highlighting key moments of this debate. We will update this release with the link to our comments later today.

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