To Protect Net Neutrality, Markey Leads Senate Dems in Call to Reclassify Broadband as a Utility

Advocates and businesses joined lawmakers today in support of letter sent to FCC’s Wheeler

 

Washington (July 15, 2014) – As the comment period comes to a close for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed rulemaking on its Open Internet order, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and eleven Senate Democrats are calling on the Commission to reclassify the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In a letter to be sent to the FCC today, the lawmakers point to the need for the FCC to use its authority to “prevent broadband providers from creating Internet fast lanes for those who can pay, leaving others stuck in traffic.” The FCC is currently considering a proposal that could allow broadband providers to charge websites, applications, and services more for faster delivery times to consumers.

 

Broadband is a more advanced technology than phone service, but in the 21st century it performs the same essential function,” write the lawmakers in the letter.  “Consumers and businesses cannot live without this vital connection to each other and to the world around them.  Accordingly, it would be appropriate for the FCC to reclassify broadband to reflect the vital role the Internet plays in carrying our most important information and our greatest ideas.”  

 

Text of the letter can be found HERE

 

The letter is signed by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Corey Booker (D-N.J.). 

 

“Reclassification under Title II is the only way to protect innovation online and make sure Etsy and our sellers can compete on an even playing field,” said Althea Erickson, Public Policy Director of Etsy. “We're thankful for Senator Markey's leadership on this issue, and urge Chairman Wheeler to do everything in his power to protect net neutrality.”

 

“We are grateful for the strong leadership of Senator Markey and all of the Senators who have clearly pointed the way forward for the FCC as it protects the open Internet,” said Gene Kimmelman, President & CEO of Public Knowledge. “They understand that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service provides the best opportunity to protect consumers and innovators from harmful fast lanes online.  Moreover, it is the solution that stands the greatest legal certainty before a potential court challenge. This is why online business leaders, investors, and public interest groups like Public Knowledge stand with them, and I believe, so do American consumers.”

 

“We are thankful to have leaders in the Senate willing to stand up for real Net Neutrality and the future of the Internet,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press. “These senators are joined by every major consumer group, thousands of startups and small businesses, and millions of everyday Internet users who rely on the open Internet and want it to stay that way. More people have spoken out on this issue than any other in the history of the FCC.  And they’ve been very clear: People don't want fast lanes for the few. They don’t want discrimination online. They don’t want a pay-to-play Internet, because they know they’ll be the ones who end up paying in the end. There’s only one path forward that will safeguard the open Internet: reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act.  And that’s what the FCC needs to do now.”

 

In 2006, Senator Markey was the author of the Network Neutrality Act, the first-ever net neutrality bill in the House of Representatives, which aimed to ensure that as the Internet evolved, it remained a level playing field guided by the principles of openness and competition. Earlier this year after the D.C. Circuit Court struck down critical segments of the FCC’s Open Internet rules, Senator Markey joined with other Democrats in the House and Senate to introduce “The Open Internet Preservation Act”. Senator Markey also has consistently opposed any attempts to undercut openness and innovation on the Internet.

 

 The full letter can be found HERE.