CWA: FCC vote will damage free and open Internet

The Communications Workers of America opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to abolish rules that have helped maintain a free and open Internet for all Americans.

By eliminating the bright-line rules first introduced in 2005 and codified by subsequent Commission votes, the FCC today has eliminated essential safeguards that ensure fair Internet access to all users.  

A new survey by the University of Maryland showed that 83 percent of Americans – including 75 percent of Republican respondents – reject the FCC plan on net neutrality that will allow some companies to speed up some websites, and slow down or block others.

We need clear, enforceable rules to protect a free and open Internet, with FCC authority to enforce any violations. Instead, the Republican majority’s plan seems to rely on a “trust me”  approach that will be ineffective and meaningless.

The FCC is turning enforcement of Internet freedom over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Because the FTC lacks authority over broadband providers that are also common carriers, pending the outcome of a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, there is no agency at this time with authority to protect an open Internet from abusive practices by cable or telecom companies. 

The FCC’s action also eliminates its jurisdiction over mobile broadband, an increasingly important way that people, particularly low-income consumers, access the Internet, and preempts critical state authority over broadband networks.

The three bright-line, common sense rules of no blocking, no throttling, and no favorable treatment to some websites and applications over others have worked to protect a free and open Internet. It is unfortunate that Chairman Pai and the Republican majority have chosen to move in the wrong direction, jeopardizing the technology that millions of Americans rely on.