To Protect Net Neutrality, Cardin and Senate Democrats Call to Reclassify Broadband as a Utility
Washington– As the comment period comes to a close for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed rulemaking on its Open Internet order, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and twelve Senate Democrats are calling on the Commission to reclassify the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In a letter to be sent to the FCC today, the lawmakers point to the need for the FCC to use its authority to “prevent broadband providers from creating Internet fast lanes for those who can pay, leaving others stuck in traffic.” The FCC is currently considering a proposal that could allow broadband providers to charge websites, applications, and services more for faster delivery times to consumers.
“Broadband is a more advanced technology than phone service, but in the 21st century it performs the same essential function,” write the lawmakers in the letter. “Consumers and businesses cannot live without this vital connection to each other and to the world around them. Accordingly, it would be appropriate for the FCC to reclassify broadband to reflect the vital role the Internet plays in carrying our most important information and our greatest ideas.”
Text of the letter can be found below.
The letter is signed by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
“Reclassification under Title II is the only way to protect innovation online and make sure Etsy and our sellers can compete on an even playing field,” said Althea Erickson, Public Policy Director of Etsy. “We're thankful for Senator Markey's leadership on this issue, and urge Chairman Wheeler to do everything in his power to protect net neutrality.”
“We are grateful for the strong leadership of Senator Markey and all of the Senators who have clearly pointed the way forward for the FCC as it protects the open Internet,” said Gene Kimmelman, President & CEO of Public Knowledge. “They understand that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service provides the best opportunity to protect consumers and innovators from harmful fast lanes online. Moreover, it is the solution that stands the greatest legal certainty before a potential court challenge. This is why online business leaders, investors, and public interest groups like Public Knowledge stand with them, and I believe, so do American consumers.”
“We are thankful to have leaders in the Senate willing to stand up for real Net Neutrality and the future of the Internet,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press. “These senators are joined by every major consumer group, thousands of startups and small businesses, and millions of everyday Internet users who rely on the open Internet and want it to stay that way. More people have spoken out on this issue than any other in the history of the FCC. And they’ve been very clear: People don't want fast lanes for the few. They don’t want discrimination online. They don’t want a pay-to-play Internet, because they know they’ll be the ones who end up paying in the end. There’s only one path forward that will safeguard the open Internet: reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. And that’s what the FCC needs to do now.”
July 15, 2014
The Honorable Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
An open Internet has become the world's most successful platform for innovation, job-creation and entrepreneurialism. An open Internet enables freedom of expression and the sharing of ideas around the world. An open Internet is driving economic growth throughout the United States.
Yet, the vitality and nondiscriminatory nature of this platform is at stake today. We must take steps to prevent broadband providers from creating Internet fast lanes for those who can pay, leaving others stuck in traffic. We need to prohibit paid prioritization, which would leave start-ups and small businesses to suffer in a new Internet slow lane, harming our economy and job growth. Our goal must be to protect the openness of the Internet for future generations.
At issue today is how the FCC should use its authority to keep the Internet open for business. We remain concerned that the Commission’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking suggests approaches that could undermine the openness of the Internet. Because the item tentatively concludes that Internet service providers would be allowed to offer faster delivery times for websites, applications or services that pay for it, the Commission’s proposal could fundamentally alter the Internet as we know it.
Instead, the Commission should take this opportunity to put truly effective open Internet rules on the books, and do so using whatever authority best stops these discriminatory practices. We believe that authority already resides in Title II. By reclassifying the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service, with appropriate forbearance, the FCC could prevent online discrimination.
Broadband is a more advanced technology than phone service, but in the 21st century it performs the same essential function. Consumers and businesses cannot live without this vital connection to each other and to the world around them. Accordingly, it would be appropriate for the FCC to reclassify broadband to reflect the vital role the Internet plays in carrying our most important information and our greatest ideas.
Thank you for your consideration and your work on this issue.
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