Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal 2015’s Open Internet rules more commonly known as Net Neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should provide equal access to all applications, content, platforms, and websites. The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to provide a level playing field and protect against content discrimination, and these rules went into effect in June of 2015.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter announced her opposition to these proposed changes in a statement:
“I strongly oppose today’s FCC proposal, which would repeal the Open Internet rules we developed to protect consumers and instead let network owners create ‘fast lanes’ and ‘slow lanes’ for web content, allowing some pages, apps, and videos to load faster than others. Repealing Open Internet rules would give Internet service providers unprecedented control over what content consumers can access, and could lead to an Internet that looks more like cable TV, with ‘channels’ of content.
“The FCC must continue to defend net neutrality: the simple principle that lawful content on the Internet should be equally accessible to everyone, and that Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon should not be allowed to discriminate against some content providers. It means these Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to create a two-speed Internet, where bigger companies pay for faster speeds, or where customers have to pay more to receive quick service.
“Without the guarantee of network neutrality, the Internet superhighway’s rules of the road will favor big tech businesses over newer startups. The Internet has allowed the proud tradition of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship to reach every corner of the globe. Its openness has enabled a new generation of New Hampshire innovators to turn a bright idea and a laptop into a business. The last thing our economy needs now is for these engines of growth to be slowed,” concluded Shea-Porter.
Shea-Porter was a leader in 2014’s successful fight to defend net neutrality, cosponsoring the Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014, a temporary fix to allow the FCC time to rewrite its rules and defend net neutrality, and sending a letter to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during development of the Open Internet rules, urging the inclusion of strong consumer protections to prevent anti-competitive behavior and promote innovation. Earlier this year, she and 31 colleagues urged Chairman Pai to follow the 2015 Open Internet rules.
Shea-Porter has continued to be a staunch Internet privacy advocate. She previously introduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2014 to ensure consumers are notified quickly if their private information has been compromised, and help prevent cyber-attacks by addressing the underlying problem of lax security and a lack of accountability. She has also co-introduced legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring current and prospective employees from disclosing their personal passwords as a condition of either keeping or getting a job. In March, she voted “no” on S.J.Res.34, Republican legislation that became law and will allow Internet Service Providers to sell private browsing data without a consumer’s permission.
Congresswoman Annie Kuster also opposed rolling back the Net Neutrality provision that she voted for in 2015.
“The free and open internet is critical to growing the industries and jobs that are an important part of the 21st century economy,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We must ensure that consumers and startups that use the internet have equal access to online content and services. Congress should act to put forward rules of the road that will protect consumers. I’ll continue to advocate for Net Neutrality so that people of all economic backgrounds have equal access to information and internet capabilities.”
Senator Maggie Hassan stated she is concerned with Chairman Pai’s approach.
“I am very concerned by the approach outlined by Chairman Pai, which could undermine critical online protections for consumers and innovators,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Net neutrality ensures a level playing field that helps promote innovation and encourage economic growth while protecting consumers from unfair practices. It is essential that we maintain these principals. The FCC should reject Chairman Pai’s approach and work to ensure strong net neutrality rules for all Granite Staters and Americans.”
After the long hard fight to ensure Net Neutrality just two years ago we are once again in a fight over access to the internet. We must ensure that the Net Neutrality provisions are not eliminated.