The Public’s Advocate

Prepared Remarks of Adrianne B. Furniss at
“The Times, They’re Not A-Changing:
The Continuing Case for an Open Internet”

Monday, September 18, 2017
1871, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL

We’re here to celebrate Tom Wheeler’s public service, and discuss protecting the Open Internet, the most critical communications issue of our time.

Before I begin, I want to express my appreciation to the 1871 team for co-hosting this event. In addition to CEO Howard Tullman and COO Tom Alexander, 1871 board members Sonny Garg and Troy Henikoff were very helpful with outreach to Chicago companies who care about the Open Internet. And the event and social media staff at 1871, Jeanne Reidy, Jihan Bibb and Lewis McKinney, deserve a big shout out.

Chicago-based Benton Board and Staff are in attendance and wearing Benton nametags so you can pick them out of the crowd. Thanks to them for their continuing support and hard work.

Benton’s believes that we can improve everyone’s life, if we can connect and engage them in addressing our common problems. Our goal is universal, affordable, broadband access, adoption, and use. To achieve this vision, we undertake three activities:

  • We curate and distribute the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest of media and communications news. Our new website is launching at the end of September, and I encourage everyone to visit and subscribe to our Monday-Friday newsletter, weekly round-up or both!
  • Benton connects stakeholders through information sharing and analysis to frame and promote conversation and a more inclusive debate around communications policy, particularly about what “in the public interest” means in the Digital Age.
  • And finally, Benton supports legal and policy experts who preserve and strengthen the public benefits of America’s communications environment, who can nourish and protect democratic values, and who can communicate to the public why all this matters. Two of our new experts are here today. As a Benton Fellow, Denise Linn of Smart Chicago Collaborative will be writing and speaking about broadband, digital inclusion, and emerging smart city technologies. And Former FCC General Counsel Jon Sallet, who successfully defended the Wheeler FCC’s Open Internet rules in court, has just become a Benton Senior Fellow. Jon will be continuing his work to protect an open and competitive internet.

But enough about Benton. We’re here to celebrate Tom Wheeler’s public service, and discuss protecting the Open Internet, the most critical communications issue of our time.

We’re here today to recognize Tom’s many efforts on behalf of the American people: to uphold the public interest; use the power of communications to strengthen communities; and to modernize and reform programs that bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all Americans.

Tom, your work as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission created opportunities for all Americans to connect to jobs, education, healthcare, and family.

And in the years to come, you and your team’s many accomplishments will not be measured by the initiatives you proposed, the dockets you opened, or the votes you won. The day-to-day impacts of your work will be seen in the community that was once left behind, that is now able to get ahead with new broadband options; in the child who can now reach a hand across a keyboard to access a whole new universe of knowledge thanks to gigabit connections to the school and Wi-Fi in the classroom; in the young mother who can now coordinate work and her child’s medical care thanks to her Lifeline connection; and in the small business owner who can now compete on a level playing field with its bigger business competitors thanks to a free and open Internet.

In your first major address as Chairman, you stressed that the FCC is the public’s representative in the ongoing network revolution, and you promised to use the Commission’s full authority to protect competition, accessibility, interconnection, public safety, and security.

Thank you for delivering on that promise.

You are truly and today, we present you a small token of our appreciation.

[see Tom Wheeler's remarks Taking Away an Open Internet]

By Adrianne B. Furniss.