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Today, Public Knowledge filed reply comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to roll back the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which created strong net neutrality rules prohibiting broadband providers from unfairly discriminating against particular online content and services. These reply comments respond to particular arguments made in the record by net neutrality opponents. Public Knowledge’s initial comments can be found here.
The FCC’s new proposal would reverse the agency’s classification of broadband service as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, and reclassify broadband as a Title I “information service.” As the courts have found, the FCC may only enforce nondiscrimination rules like net neutrality against Title II services.
The current rules prohibit Internet Service Providers from blocking lawful content, throttling users, creating “fast lanes” for favored content (known as “paid prioritization”), and 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 John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“The comments submitted in the record so far serve only to illustrate that the FCC was right in 2015 to classify broadband as a Title II service and to adopt Open Internet rules, and that the DC Circuit was right to uphold it.
“Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans of both political parties support net neutrality. Just today, a broadband-industry funded study found that 60 percent of comments filed before the FCC support keeping the current rules in place, including 98.5 percent of unique comments. Net neutrality opponents are wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and attempt to rewrite history to support their agenda -- and the public is not behind them.
“If the FCC attempts to rely on the corporate PR, paid-for ‘economic’ analyses, and misstatements of legal precedent that currently support its proposal, it will lose in court -- but not before harming consumers and damaging competition in the meantime. Because the facts continue to show a need for rules, and because opponents have failed to substantiate any claims of alleged harms they cause, the Commission must keep the rules in place.”
You may view our reply comments here. 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.