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Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined the net neutrality proposal he plans to circulate to his fellow commissioners on Thursday. Chairman Wheeler’s Wired article details strong net neutrality rules that would reclassify the internet as a Title II service under the Communications Act, banning paid prioritization and the creation of “fast lanes” that would limit innovation and harm consumers.
Wheeler’s article confirms that his proposal will expand net neutrality protections to wireless networks while forbearing from sections of Title II that simply aren’t applicable to the broadband environment. However, the rules will maintain the agency’s power to protect consumer privacy and the viability of the Universal Service Fund (USF), while waiving any automatic USF fees for broadband.
Public Knowledge welcomes Chairman Wheeler’s historic proposal for strong net neutrality rules and looks forward to the FCC’s vote on February 26.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“Public Knowledge commends Chairman Wheeler for siding with network users by announcing his support for strong Open Internet rules grounded in Title II authority. This is a historic announcement by Chairman Wheeler, and a decision that consumers have been demanding for some time. Americans have waited over a year for the FCC to restore the Open Internet protections that were vacated by the DC Circuit Court.
“Chairman Wheeler’s proposal appears to not only restore these protections, but also place them under the strongest legal authority at his disposal by reclassifying broadband as a Title II service under the Communications Act. The Wheeler proposal is designed to prohibit blocking and paid prioritization, ensuring that no innovator or internet user will have to ask their ISP for permission to reach all parts of the internet or offer new services.
“It is clear that Chairman Wheeler has not made this choice lightly. He has conducted a transparent process at the Commission that welcomed more than 4 million comments from the public. He has frequently met with stakeholders from across the country. And, most notably, he has proven willing to listen to public concerns and adjust his early proposal when presented with sound legal arguments.
“Of course we look forward to seeing the actual language of the rules before fully evaluating their strength and impact, but we are very encouraged by the Chairman’s announcement today. By reclassifying broadband under Title II, the FCC will preserve its ability to maintain core consumer protections needed for communications networks, with appropriate forbearance from other parts of the statute. His approach uses a scalpel, not a cleaver, to avoid subjecting broadband providers to parts of Title II that may not be applicable to their services. We appreciate this thoughtful approach and look forward to seeing its details.
“After a year without rules, it is time for the FCC to act. While I encourage all of the FCC commissioners to carefully scrutinize the proposal’s details, I hope that Chairman Wheeler’s colleagues follow its direction.”