NY Attorney General Blasts FCC Over Public Comment Process on Net Neutrality

Ivan Schwartz
November 23, 2017

"It's a signature accomplishment for Pai's chairmanship", said Fred Campbell, director of the conservative think tank Tech Knowledge. Fellow Republican FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O'Rielly cheered the anticipated release, while Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel opposed it. Commissioners of the FTC-which could be the largest jurisdictional beneficiary of the Order, subject to a pending en banc proceeding in the Ninth Circuit-were similarly split down party lines in their reaction to the news.

The Free Press Action Fund and other consumer activist groups said they would organize protests outside Verizon stores and accused Pai of doing the company's bidding. Pai served as an associate general counsel at Verizon for two years.

The FCC received 22 million comments on its plan to repeal net neutrality rules and deregulate broadband providers, but many were fraudulent. Just as a phone company does not get to decide who a person can call and what she can say on that call, the ISP is not expected to dictate the content that a consumer views or posts online.

"In today's digital age, the rules that govern the operation and delivery of internet service to hundreds of millions of Americans are critical to the economic and social well-being of the nation", Schneiderman wrote.

Technology giants are expecting to lobby furiously against the FCC's plan, setting up a heavyweight fight between Silicon Valley giants and telecommunications conglomerates - two of the most well-heeled industries in the country. The agency regulates radio frequencies (for those who remember the 1990 film "Pump Up the Volume") and television content (see: George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say" bit). Others have posited that the repeal of net neutrality could lead to more subscription services and certain websites packaged together as deals, much like how cable companies package certain channels.

Example

The rules, which came into effect in 2015 under the Obama administration, were created to stop internet service providers from favouring traffic by blocking or throttling the speed of access to websites.

The concept ensures internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally. In recent years, some broadband companies, such as AT&T, have tried offering discounts on internet service to Americans as long as they agree to let the company monitor their Web browsing history, for example. Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting chairman of the FTC, has said that the agency's expertise in data security and privacy issues will make it a powerful defender of US consumers.

Another key change is that the proposal gives significant additional authority to the Federal Trade Commission. Earlier this month, the FCC voted to eliminate a longstanding rule that prevented entities from owning a radio or TV station and a newspaper in the same market.

The New York Attorney General's Office says it's investigating public comments regarding net neutrality on the Federal Communications Commission's website. The internet was an open environment for innovation and inclusion prior to intrusive government intervention and will continue to remain open after this order is adopted.

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