November 24, 2017

FCC Commissioner Calls on Congress to Save the Internet as We Know It

Net neutrality supporters hold signs in front of the White House. (Photo: Joseph Gruber/Flickr/cc)


FCC Commissioner Begs Nation to Stop GOP Colleagues From Killing Net Neutrality

By Andrea Germanos

Jessica Rosenworcel says it’s time to “roar” and “make a ruckus” to save the internet as we know it.

After one commissioner called the FCC’s newly-released plan to roll back net neutrality “worse than one could imagine,” a second commissioner is now calling voters to make sure the proposal by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai does not go through.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published Thursday—entitled “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality“—Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel points to the overwhelming public support for net neutrality and the ongoing questions about validity of anti-net neutrality public comments submitted to FCC, as well as what appear to be tens of thousands of missing comments. “If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has been even worse,” she writes.

Rosenworcel decries Pai’s plan as “a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

Killing net neutrality, she adds, means

your broadband provider could carve internet access into fast and slow lanes, favoring the traffic of online platforms that have made special payments and consigning all others to a bumpy road. Your provider would have the power to choose which voices online to amplify and which to censor. The move could affect everything online, including the connections we make and the communities we create.

This is not the internet experience we know today. Americans should prevent the plan from becoming the law of the land.

In short, she writes, the American public needs to “Make a ruckus,” including by targeting other members of the FCC.

Rosenworcel has also made recent rallying cries to save net neutrality on social media. On Wednesday, she tweeted a link to Pai’s proposal and wrote: “Don’t boo. Read it. Then roar.  It’s time to make a ruckus. It’s time to #SaveNetNeutrality.”

Her op-ed came a day after Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Pai’s proposal is “worse than one could imagine” and released a fact sheet (pdf) explaining its consequences to the net as we know it, as Common Dreams reported.

As NBC News outlines, the resistance to Pai’s plan is intensifying. “While the topic of net neutrality is certainly one that can be described as ‘wonky,'” the reporting notes, “it’s still something that could affect every person who uses the internet.”

Among those catalyzing the resistance is digital rights advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Corynne McSherry, legal director at EFF, wrote this week, “Instead of responding to the millions of Americans who want to protect the free and open Internet, the FCC instead is ceding to the demands of a handful of massive ISPs, like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.”

The group is also urging open internet supporters to contact their members of Congress to fight any rollback of net neutrality.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future is also urging constituents to press their lawmakers to stop the plan, and is calling for protests at Verizon retail stores nationwide on December 7.

Verizon is being targeted, a call-to-action explains, because Pai “is a former top lawyer for Verizon, and the company has been spending millions on lobbying and lawsuits to kill net neutrality so they can gouge us all for more money.”

The FCC is set to vote on the plan Dec. 14, so “There’s still time to let the FCC know what you think,” write Matt Wood and Gaurav Laroia of Free Press. “You can also urge your members of Congress to condemn Pai’s plan, as hundreds of thousands of you have already done in the past 24 hours.”

“If we turn up the pressure,” they conclude, “there’s a small (but growing) chance we can put the brakes on Pai’s bad ideas before the FCC votes. So keep fighting and speaking out—and don’t fall for Ajit Pai’s lies.”

‘Worse Than One Could Imagine’: Commissioner Decries FCC Chair’s Attack on Net Neutrality

By Jake Johnson

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn testifies before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation during an FCC oversight hearing in Washington, D.C. (Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

“Our message to Pai and companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon is clear: People everywhere will not sit idly by as you destroy the free and open internet.”

In an effort to combat the “mountain of lies” FCC chair Ajit Pai has deployed to justify his newly released plan to kill net neutrality, Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn unveiled a fact sheet (pdf) on Wednesday aimed at helping Americans understand that Pai’s proposals are “worse than one could imagine” and highlighting their life-or-death implications for the open internet.

The fact sheet, an easily digestible two pages in length, runs through a series of commonly asked and frequently confusing questions surrounding net neutrality: what it is, why it’s important, and how Pai’s plan would affect the web.

At the most basic level, net neutrality is the principle that “all data and all legal traffic that travels over the internet should be treated equally,” Clyburn writes. “This has been a bipartisan bedrock principle for more than a decade.”

It is also extremely popular among the public. As Common Dreams reported in September, 57 percent of Americans “support the current net neutrality regulations that ban ISPs from blocking or discriminating against lawful content on the internet.”

But Pai showed little concern for public opinion in announcing the release of his plan on Tuesday, neglecting even to mention the record-breaking number of public comments that poured in against his proposals.

Clyburn’s report goes on to ask whether it’s true that Pai’s plan would really do away with net neutrality, despite the expressed will of the public.

“Yes,” Clyburn answers. “It eliminates all prohibitions against blocking and throttling (slowing down) applications by broadband providers, and enables them to engage in paid prioritization and unreasonable discrimination at the point of interconnection. It ignores thousands of consumer complaints and millions of individual comments that ask the FCC to save net neutrality and uphold the principles that all traffic should be created equal.”

As for the specifics, Clyburn notes that Pai’s plan:

  • “Increases uncertainty for consumers, ensuring that broadband providers could block or throttle at a whim”;
  • “Empowers a federal agency that has never enforced net neutrality protections (the FTC) to manage consumer complaints and ensures that there is no FCC recourse for wronged consumers or businesses”;
  • “Prevents states and localities from adopting any related consumer protections—an action that is likely unlawful.”

The fact sheet closes with a glossary compiled to help American consumers to “decipher the jargon” Pai and his corporate backers use in advocating what critics have described as just “another handout to big business at the expense of consumers.”

When Pai invokes phrases like “heavy-handed regulation,” for instance, he is really referring to “limited rules to protect consumers and competition that broadband providers do not like,” Clyburn notes.

Likewise, Pai’s description of current regulations as “unnecessary and likely to inhibit innovation and competition” should be translated to “not financially beneficial to broadband providers.”

Clyburn’s fact sheet comes as internet defenders are urging a mass revolt against the FCC chair’s proposals, which are scheduled for a vote on December 14.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Mary Alice Crim, engagement and events director for the advocacy group Free Press, outlined seven steps Americans can take “right now to save the internet,” including calling members of Congress and signing up to volunteer with Team Internet, a network that helps “coordinate Internet users from across the nation to pressure Congress locally.”

“Our message to Pai and companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon is clear,” Crim concludes: “People everywhere will not sit idly by as you destroy the free and open internet.”