Senators Lead Call to Protect the Open Internet and Address Harmful Zero-Rating Plans

Call on FCC to take enforcement action against harmful zero-rating offerings that violate principles of net neutrality

Washington (November 18, 2016). – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling on it to take enforcement action against harmful “zero-rating” offerings that violate the principles of the Open Internet Order, which prevents Internet Service Providers from prioritizing, blocking, or throttling content. While “zero-rating” describes a range of different practices, these offerings generally allow internet subscribers to stream certain applications, websites, and services without that data usage counting against a user’s data caps or toward overage charges. In the letter, the Senators argue that paid zero-rating can harm small and emerging services who cannot afford to have their content zero-rated, and offerings that favor Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) or unaffiliated content should be considered a violation of net neutrality.    

“Without proper oversight and enforcement action, zero-rating can discriminate against certain services, potentially distorting competition, stifling innovation, and hampering user choice and free speech,” the Senators write in the letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler. “When ISPs, not the consumer, choose online winners and losers, the very core tenants of net neutrality could be disrupted.” 

 

A copy of the letter to the FCC can be found HERE