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FCC Plan to Repeal Open Internet Protections Leaves Us Vulnerable to Corporate Greed

Nov 22, 2017

Credit FCC Chairman Ajit Pai / fcc.gov

Commentary: Chairman Ajit Pai of the the Federal Communications Commission announced that the draft order repealing all the 2015 Open Internet Order rules will be released tomorrow. In his statement, the Chairman notes that all open Internet rules will be repealed and replaced with a transparency rule, handing power to enforce the rule to the Federal Trade Commission.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition released the following statement from Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs:

"Repealing Net Neutrality is no small matter, especially for Latinos and people of color who already face substantial barriers in getting online, staying online and having high quality Internet. Despite the obstacles, we strive to tell our stories, build businesses, learn, get jobs, express ourselves, and organize online. Today, the Trump FCC is telling Latinos and other consumers that their voices will only be heard as far as their wallets can carry them, by paving the way for paid prioritization. Shifting responsibility for resolving consumer issues to the Federal Trade Commission, which currently lacks the jurisdiction and resources to effectively handle them, is a sad statement of what the FCC stands for today-corporations over consumers.

"We now have evidence that the consumer rules and process initiated by the 2015 Open Internet Order ushered in a new and welcomed accountability from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to their customers, where the FCC had to listen and carriers had to respond. As we've seen through the documents released under NHMC's FOIA request, the FCC would rather sit on this evidence than put it to good use in making better policy to benefit millions of Americans. We join with consumers and other public interest advocates in pressuring the full Commission to reject this dangerous proposal to make sure these vital consumer protections remain in place."

While the FCC is continuing to withhold many of the documents requested by NHMC in its May FOIA requests, the tens of thousands of consumer complaints that were released demonstrate that the current consumer process has provided the only avenue from which consumers could compel ISPs to review their claims about blocking, throttling or discrimination against their Internet communications.

View the consumer complaints filed under the 2015 Order with a graphic here: http://nhmc.org/foia-release

An independent expert analysis of the tens of thousands of consumer complaints that NHMC received through its Freedom of Information Act requests from the Federal Communications Commission under the current 2015 Open Internet Order, found:

  • This body of evidence fundamentally challenges the presumptions underlying the proposal to reclassify broadband access as a Title I information service versus a Title II telecommunications service. The documents reveal that both consumers and their service providers appear to consider broadband access as a basic "telecommunications service" that is supposed to deliver data at sufficiently high speeds.
  • Complaint documents reveal that American consumers are commonly experiencing slower than expected Internet speeds and restrictive data caps, which already constrain their freedom to utilize the basic broadband subscriptions they are paying for.
  • The evidence further contradicts the presumption that the regulatory regime established under the 2015 Open Internet Order represents a "heavy-handed" one or that enhanced transparency rules impose a material "regulatory burden" on service providers.

The same report found that it would be prudent for the Commission to release the remaining carrier responses and internal FCC documents requested in the NHMC FOIA requests in order to develop a reasonably complete evidentiary record before proceeding with the substantial changes proposed.