WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, as organizations and leading tech businesses across the country rally support for stronger net neutrality rules during a national day of action, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) urged the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a letter to implement “strong and unambiguous” rules that will guarantee open and equal access to the Internet for everyone.
“Like water or electricity, the Internet is a staple of our lives and our economy. But just because it can be delivered by the same piece of wire or spun glass as cable TV doesn’t mean it should be confused in significance and functionality with it,” Senator King said in a statement. “People can choose whether to buy Lifetime or ESPN, but the Internet is a necessity for individuals and businesses. To effectively hand over control of this truly essential public service to the owners of the wires would be a mistake of historic proportions that would burden our society for generations. We do not have to create new laws or a complex regulatory structure here. The Internet is analogous to the railroads of the last century – only today’s rails are of glass and copper rather than steel, and the content is information and data rather than coal or cattle. That’s why it’s crucial that the FCC ensures that the Internet remains open and that its content remains available for everyone and not just those who can afford it."
Senator King’s letter to Chairman Wheeler, which can be read below, coincides with a national day of action coordinated by BattleForTheNet.com with the goal of advocating for stronger net neutrality rules. The effort invites people across the country to contact their elected representatives and encourage them to support net neutrality. On May 15, 2014, the FCC proposed rules that would permit Internet service providers “substantial room” for “discrimination” online, undermining the Internet’s founding principle and limiting equal market access for startups, small businesses, and individuals. The public comment period on those rules will close next Monday, September 15th.
The text of Senator King’s letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can be read below:
September 10, 2014
The Honorable Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
I am writing to urge you to implement strong and unambiguous net neutrality rules that protect the Internet from discrimination and other practices that will impede its ability to serve our democracy, empower consumers, and fuel economic growth. Erecting toll booths or designating fast lanes on the information superhighway would stifle free speech, limit consumer choice, and thwart innovation.
The FCC must act in a clear and decisive way to ensure the Internet does not become the bastion of powerful incumbents and carriers, but rather remains a place where all speakers, creators, and innovators can harness its power now and in the future.
The Internet is a staple of our lives and our economy. The FCC should protect access to the Internet under a Title II framework, with appropriate forbearance, thereby ensuring greater regulatory and market certainty for users and broadband providers.
To ensure that the Internet fulfills its promise of being a powerful, open platform for social, political, and economic life, the FCC must adopt a rule against blocking, a bright-line rule against application-specific discrimination, and a rule banning access fees. These principles of fairness and openness should not only apply to the so-called last-mile network, but also at points of interconnection to the broadband access provider’s network. Likewise, strong net neutrality rules must apply regardless of whether users access the Internet on fixed or mobile connections.
The FCC’s proposed rules would be a significant departure from how the Internet currently works, limiting the economic and expressive opportunity it provides. Investors, entrepreneurs, and employees have invested in businesses based on the certainty of a level playing field and equal-opportunity marketplace. The proposal would threaten those investments and undermine the necessary certainty that businesses and investors need going forward. The current proposed rules, albeit well-meaning, would be far-reaching. Erecting new barriers to entry would result in fewer innovative startups, fewer micro-entrepreneurs, and fewer diverse voices in the public square. The FCC should abandon its current proposal and adopt a simple rule that reflects the essential values of our free markets, our participatory democracy, and our communications laws.
When the history of the Internet is written, 2014 will be remembered as a defining moment. This FCC will be remembered either for handing the Internet over to the highest bidders or for ensuring that the conditions of Internet openness remain for the next generation of American entrepreneurs and citizens. I urge you to take bold and unequivocal action that will protect the open Internet and the opportunity it affords for innovation, economic development, communication, and democracy itself.
Angus S. King, Jr.
United States Senator