FCC Pressured to Release Complaints in Net Neutrality Case
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission was flooded with 22 million comments on its plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality protections. Now, interest groups are asking for information on complaints and a new public comment period to review them.
According to an email released by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the organization has “filed a joint Motion, with 20 additional organizations, in the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proceeding asking the FCC to enter into the record all open internet complaints, ombudsperson correspondence and carrier responses since the 2015 Open Internet Order, and set a comment period to allow for public input on the new evidence.” The release continues:
It is imperative that the Commission incorporate all of the documents produced as well as those still missing into the record, analyze the information, and issue a Public Notice allowing the public the adequate time to review and comment,” said Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Only then will the Commission be able to truly ascertain how the net neutrality rules have impacted consumers.
“It is remarkable that the Commission, by its own admission, has not verified whether any of the tens of thousands of consumers that turned to the FCC for help were harmed due to violations of the net neutrality rules,” continued Scurato. “This is strikingly at odds with statements by the Commission asserting an absence of consumer harm. Indeed, repealing these rules without verifying any of the complaints would eliminate the only recourse Americans have to resolve serious roadblocks to the way they work, learn, stay connected and express themselves.”
The motion calls for the FCC to “release the documents publicly, provide their own analysis, give Public Notice and start a new comment period that allows for meaningful input on the new evidence.”
The Trump administration’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has led a crusade to repeal the legislation protecting net neutrality. Without this legislation in place, broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast—which collectively spent $11.2 million lobbying against net neutrality in the first three months of 2017—would have control over access to the internet. The Guardian notes that Pai “pledged last year to take a ‘weed whacker’ to rules that regulate internet service providers like any other companies providing utilities such as water or electricity, arguing they were too onerous on cable companies and stifled innovation.”
Long story short, if ISPs and the FCC get their way, you will no longer have the liberty to have on-command access to any website or online service. Your gateway to the internet will be limited by your budget, as well as what your ISPs have been paid to shove down your throat. That means if Bing offers Comcast a hefty penny, you’ll never make another Google search for as long as you live. Yeah, it’s that bad.
Dozens of internet-based companies, including Amazon, Etsy, Dropbox, Kickstarter and Vimeo, joined in the protest against the FCC in July, proclaiming that the “FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees.”
In a recent episode of the podcast “Scheer Intelligence,” host and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer interviewed Mark Lloyd, the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer at the FCC from 2009 to 2012. Lloyd said that the fight for neutrality “is about the fact that most Americans are not able to get the information that they need to keep themselves safe, to make sure they know where to send their children to school, where to get the best medical care, or a wide variety of things about their financial well-being and other things important to them. …”
Lloyd also noted that net neutrality is especially imperative during hurricanes and other natural disasters.
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig