Thursday, October 19, 2023
Benton Institute Welcomes FCC's Moves Toward Restoring Consumers' Internet Protections
Today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to reestablish the Commission’s authority over broadband Internet access service by classifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. The following statement should be attributed to Benton Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman:
"The laws governing U.S. telecommunications have not changed over the last several years. What has changed is the public’s understanding of the critical need for fully functional and reliable high-speed internet access.
"The COVID epidemic and the changing national security environment, among other things, demonstrate how essential it is for the FCC to restore the protections afforded under Title II of the Communications Act to broadband.
"Americans now live with daily threats to our online privacy rights, ransomware, and other cybersecurity breaches and network vulnerabilities that impair personal and national security. First responders and people in need of their services, schools and their students, medical providers and their patients, lower income Americans and businesses, governments and family members seeking to communicate with them all need a regulatory process that serves their needs. So, too, new competitors to the large cable and telephone companies need protection against anti-competitive practices.
"While the increased recognition of the need for the FCC to restore Title II authority over broadband internet access service is new, the problems this action seeks to address are not. In 2019, a federal appeals court reversed three important parts of the Trump-era FCC’s attempt to repeal the application of Title II. Amazingly—and over the dissent of then-Commissioner, now Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel—the FCC majority took the extraordinary position that the benefits of deregulation outweighed any possible danger posed to first responders, to low-income consumers, and to new broadband access competitors facing anti-competitive interference from big cable and telephone companies.
"Restoring Title II oversight enables the FCC to monitor and remedy service outages, and to accept consumer complaints about shortcomings in broadband services.
"All these examples demonstrate why it is so important that the FCC has voted today to start the process of reclassifying broadband under Title II."
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
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