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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing room is seen in Washington February 26, 2015. The FCC is expected Thursday to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed "net neutrality" rules, regulating broadband providers more heavily than in the past and restricting their power to control download speeds on the web. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR4RAOY
TechTank

The FCC’s net neutrality proposal: A shameful sham that sells out consumers

Tom Wheeler
Editor's Note:

Tom Wheeler served as the 31st Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2013-2017, during which time the FCC passed the Open Internet Rule.

Go figure. The day after the Trump Justice Department sues to block the vertical integration of AT&T and Time Warner, the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes eliminating rules that could be used to prevent the same harms to consumers.

Right hand…meet left hand.

Fighting against monopolization in the internet era…meet ideologically-driven “do what the big guys want.”

The Trump FCC’s proposal to eliminate the over-two-year-old Open Internet Rule is a shameful sham and sellout.

Even for this FCC and its leadership, this proposal raises hypocrisy to new heights.

A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect. For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.

The assertion that the FCC proposal is somehow pro-consumer is a sham that doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority. Here is the secret why the big companies want this: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has NO rule-making regulatory authority in this area. In the name of “protecting consumers” the FCC is walking away under a smokescreen sham that the FTC can do the job.

The only word that can describe the Trump FCC’s behavior is shameful. They have given those they are supposed to regulate everything they want. The Communications Act mandates the FCC to protect consumers of telecommunications services. This proposal neatly steps away from that responsibility by redefining internet service as not being a “telecommunications service.” It is a legal sleight-of-hand and those who proposed this and vote for it should be ashamed of themselves.

Even for this FCC and its leadership, this proposal raises hypocrisy to new heights. They are “protecting consumers” by disavowing responsibility to do just that. They are providing for “better regulation” by giving authority to the FTC which has no regulatory authority. They are walking away from the clear statutory mandate to oversee telecommunications services by cleverly saying local internet delivery is not a telecommunications service.

 

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