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ICYMI- Sen. Franken to FCC: ‘Preserve Access To Internet’

Response Magazine
Sen. Franken to FCC: ‘Preserve Access To Internet’
Posted 22 Jan, 2014

WASHINGTON – Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) urged Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to “act quickly” in response to the decision that invalidated net neutrality rules and to “implement new rules that will preserve access to the Internet.”

“Now, there is no law to stop Wal-Mart from paying Comcast for preferential treatment so that its website loads more quickly and with better quality than the website of the small business in Wilmar,” Franken wrote in the letter. “There is no way to stop Time Warner from blocking all movie websites except HBO and all news websites except CNN.”

Franken also wrote the decision could lead to “disastrous” consequences.

“The Internet was developed at taxpayers’ expense to benefit the public interest,” Franken wrote. “It belongs to all of us. And net neutrality keeps it that way.”

Franken was one of many who responded to last week’s D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down two parts of the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules – anti-discrimination and anti-blocking provisions. Those rules banned providers from blocking, degrading or discriminating against lawful content, apps and services.

Here are some other reactions to court’s decision:

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (via a blog post): “The government, in the form of the FCC, is not going to take over the Internet. It is not going to dictate the architecture of the Internet. It is not going to do anything that gratuitously interferes with the organic evolution of the Internet in response to developments in technology, business models and consumer behavior. It is important not to prohibit or inhibit conduct that is efficiency producing and competition enhancing. It also is important not to permit conduct that reduces efficiency, competition and utility, including the values that go beyond the material.”
  • Randal Milch, Verizon general counsel: “The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet. Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. This will not change in light of the court’s decision. We look forward to working with the FCC and congress to keep the Internet a hub of innovation without the need for unnecessary new regulations that seek to manage the explosive dynamism of the Internet.”
  • Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association: “The Internet creates new jobs, new technologies and new ways of communicating around the globe. Its innovation-without-permission ecosystem flows from a decentralized, open architecture that has few barriers to entry. Yet, the continued success of this amazing platform should not be taken for granted. The Internet Association supports enforceable rules that ensure an open Internet, free from government control or discriminatory, anticompetitive actions by gatekeepers.”
  • Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association: “We’re optimistic that this ruling will now result in a better approach by the FCC to keep the Internet open and prevent Internet access providers from favoring some content over others. This nondiscrimination principle has been key to the launching of new Internet platforms, websites and applications and to the growth of the tech industry and innovation in the U.S. since the 1990s.”
  • Gabe Rothman, American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) legislative counsel: “The court actually said that the FCC could promulgate net neutrality regulations but that it had failed to do so under the proper legal framework. Accordingly, the FCC could actually heal itself. It could, without going back to Congress, reclassify broadband service under the Communications Act as a common carrier – a service, much like plain old telephone service or passenger rail – that holds itself out as available to all comers.”
  • USTelecom President Walter McCormick: “While we disagree with the court’s conclusion that Section 706 of the Telecom Act is a grant of authority over broadband, we nonetheless agree with the court that treating Internet service providers as common carriers is both inappropriate and unnecessary to preserving an open Internet.”
  • Steve Largent, CEO of the Wireless Association: “Policymakers should exercise caution before adding any additional regulation to this area, particularly given the fundamental technical and operational challenges facing mobile broadband providers and the robust competition to attract and retain customers.”
  • Michael Powell, chairman, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA): “The cable industry has always embraced the principles of an open Internet, and the court decision will not change that. Consumers have always been entitled to enjoy the legal Web content of their choosing and they will continue to do so. An open Internet is good for our customers, and good for our business.”
  • Kevin Werbach, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, wrote in The Atlantic: “Everyone should take a deep breath. Yes, the court overturned the FCC’s rules prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against third-party content and services. No, the court didn’t kill network neutrality. In fact, it gave the FCC a roadmap to reconstitute and even improve on its original decision. Whatever the FCC does, it will have to start over, in a more complicated legal and political environment. As of today there are no mandatory network neutrality rules in place. Then again, that’s not really a new development. It was also the also the case until the very end of 2010.”