WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3–2 to begin a rulemaking process to reinstate Net Neutrality protections. The agency can restore these protections by reclassifying high-speed-internet access services under Title II of the Communications Act. This will give the agency the authority it needs to hold companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon accountable to internet users in the United States.
In late September, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the agency’s intention to introduce a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” shortly after the agency gained a full complement of commissioners, and the Democratic majority it needed to begin this proceeding.
Since the Trump-era FCC repealed the Open Internet Order in 2017, people from across the political spectrum have called on the agency to protect an open internet and assert the agency’s authority to prevent broadband providers from harming online users.
Just prior to today’s vote, Rosenworcel said: “The [Trump-FCC repeal] put the agency on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of the American public.”
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said:
“We applaud FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Commissioners Gomez and Starks for getting right to work to protect internet users. Reinstating the agency’s Title II authority is a top priority. People across the country are demanding these open-internet safeguards, which will allow the FCC to ensure that everyone in the United States — no matter their location, political persuasion, race or income — has affordable, reliable and safe internet connections free from discrimination, blocking or other ISP manipulation.
“Millions of people in 2017 urged the Trump-appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, to abandon his plan to gut the Obama-era Open Internet Order. But Pai ignored the overwhelming public consensus and stripped away these basic rules for the online road.
“Efforts to undermine Title II protections are largely limited to executives at large phone and cable companies and their proxies in Congress and D.C. lobbying firms. Public polling in 2022 shows large majorities of Democratic, Republican and independent voters reject the Trump-administration repeal and support reinstating the FCC’s authority.
“And it’s no surprise: For years, the powerful companies that provide broadband access for most people across the country have ranked at the bottom of customer-service satisfaction indices. The need for someone to hold their feet to the fire is as urgent now as it has ever been.
“In a last-ditch attempt to win over public opinion, these companies are bankrolling a disinformation campaign designed to paint the agency’s popular Obama-era rules as bad for business and the American way. But no amount of lies from the broadband industry and their congressional allies will change the fact that we need a watchdog protecting internet users’ interests and defending their right to an open and affordable internet.
“Broadband providers and their spin doctors are deeply out of touch with people across the country who are fed up with high prices and poor customer service. We need a referee on the field to call fouls and issue penalties when broadband companies are being unfair.
“We look forward to helping the FCC fix Trump-era mistakes and return these basic protections to the people who use the internet every day. With Title II back in place, everyone will be able to log on knowing that their broadband provider won’t violate their online rights without being held to account.”