Washington, DC — On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, to enact measures protecting internet users against the anti-competitive practices of large telecommunications and internet companies. In the order, Biden calls on the FCC to “restore Net Neutrality rules undone by the [Trump] administration.” In 2017, the agency under then-Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the Open Internet Order and abandoned the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. Today’s executive order also calls on the FCC to require more transparency from broadband providers about their prices and terms of service, and to examine the impact of early termination fees and other punitive practices imposed on broadband customers.
Broadband allows people to participate in the digital world, which encompasses our daily lives. It connects people with their families and friends, news on what is happening in the country and abroad, and gives access to an unlimited amount of important information and resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband has been critical in supporting online school and work, access to healthcare and medical information, and even vaccine distribution. Eighty-seven percent of people reported that the internet has been important to them during the outbreak, and fifty-three percent of people reported that broadband is essential for critical purposes and everyday tasks. If broadband is so essential, then why doesn’t current federal policy enable the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband as we regulate other public utilities — similar to the way we treat electricity, water, and phones?
The US Department of Justice under President Joe Biden has dropped a department lawsuit filed under former President Donald Trump that challenged California's net neutrality rules. California's law, considered more strict than federal rules adopted during the Obama administration, could set the baseline for future federal rules. The DOJ formally dismissed the lawsuit Monday. The suit was first filed in 2018 under ex-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Trump appointee. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the California law in October 2018. California adopted the new rules after a Republican-led FCC in 2017 repealed federal rules that had been established under President Barrack Obama.
Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said Monday he will depart the commission on Jan. 20, leaves behind a controversial legacy: He’s regarded as either an exemplary change agent or an ideologue who forfeited consumer interests for commercial ones. To cable, telecommunications and consumer-electronics companies, Pai has been a model of transparency and a champion of free markets who cut away outdated regulations and laid the groundwork for the expansion of broadband to millions of Americans.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a reliable broadband connection is a health and safety necessity. Families need the internet to connect to remote work, virtual classrooms, election information and telehealth care while maintaining social distance. But roughly 60 percent of low-income parents say their students will experience digital obstacles when attending online school this fall — including 40 percent who say they will have to seek out public WiFi because they don’t have a reliable internet connection at home. And students aren’t the only ones who need internet access to learn, work and thrive at home — at all times, but especially now.
Washington, DC (October 29, 2020) - During Tuesday’s FCC open meeting, I was tweeting about the failures and falsehoods in the agency’s latest open-internet vote — a decision that involves so much more than just Net Neutrality rules, and that’s all about the Trump FCC’s unlawful abdication of its responsibility for broadband policy. The agency just released the final order, so this explainer recaps that Twitter thread and the Free Press research it came from. During tumultuous times it can be hard to focus on internet and media policy issues like these.
Five years ago, the movement for internet freedom won an important victory when the Federal Communications Commission reclassified the internet as a common carrier, making it like a utility that everyone should have equal access to without discrimination. That was quickly reversed in 2017 under the new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who deregulated the internet giving the government no authority to oversee the internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T. I speak with Josh Stager of the Open Technology Institute about the ongoing fight to protect the internet and what we need to do next.
Washington, DC - On October 27, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to reaffirm its 2017 repeal of net neutrality. The vote is a response to Mozilla v. FCC, a 2019 court ruling that found the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service” and ignored the government’s duty to protect public safety, digital equity, and broadband competition. In February 2020, the FCC abruptly announced a short public comment period to address the ruling and the court-ordered remand, or do-over, of the net neutrality proceeding.
Washington - In a blog post on Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote that he stands by the agency's unpopular repeal of Net Neutrality rules. Pai also circulated a proposal to address three issues raised in 2019 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit when it remanded critical parts of that repeal and sent it back to the agency. At that time, the court commanded the FCC to examine the impacts of removing Title II as a source of authority for broadband’s inclusion in the Lifeline subsidy program.
Siding with The New York Times, a federal judge has ordered that the Federal Communications Commission must disclose information about users who submitted comments during the 2017 net neutrality proceeding, despite the agency’s objections that doing so could compromise people’s privacy. U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield in the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that disclosure of the data — including commenters’ IP addresses, time stamps and user-agent headers — is in the public interest, particularly given concerns that many comments were fraudulent.
Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are free to slow down, block or prioritize internet traffic as they wish, without interference by the federal government. That’s the effect of an October ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reversed rules requiring what is called “net neutrality” – treating all internet traffic equally, regardless of where it’s from or what kind of data it is. Giving corporate telecom giants this power is wildly unpopular among the American people, who know that these companies have overcharged customers and interfered with users’ internet access in the past.
In 2015, under great pressure from a broad media justice movement, the FCC passed Net Neutrality policies that guaranteed the universal right to go where users want to go on the Internet. In 2017, the Trump FCC under Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai moved quickly to repeal Net Neutrality. The movement responded with several tactics to win Net Neutrality back. One of those was a challenge in court, Mozilla v FCC. Last week, the court finally announced its decision. We speak with Craig Aaron of Free Press about that decision. While the court did not restore Net Neutrality, it did open the doors for the movement to use other tactics to achieve a free Internet. Aaron describes what those are and the bigger picture of an Internet for everyone.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit undermined the right to a free and open internet today by upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order. In Mozilla v. FCC, the Court ruled that while the FCC acted lawfully when it dismantled net neutrality, it cannot block states from setting their own regulations. This opens the door for states to enact their own net neutrality legislation and protect millions of individuals and consumers. The FCC’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order gave internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to prioritize, throttle or block content with little to no oversight. While the FCC claimed this repeal would spark innovation and job growth, public interest groups argued that the revocation of net neutrality has stifled innovation, hurt competition, stalled growth and put the public safety at risk.
Court Defers to FCC on Dismantling Net Neutrality for Now but Opens Door for States, Higher Courts and Congress to Act
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit deferred to the Federal Communications Commission in upholding its 2017 repeal of Net Neutrality, but overturned key parts of the agency’s so-called Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which was adopted on partisan lines in December 2017. That order repealed the landmark Open Internet Order the Obama-era FCC put in place in 2015. In a lengthy and unusual opinion, the court upheld the FCC’s misguided legal analysis repealing the federal rules for Net Neutrality, even though the judges who joined the opinion wrote that they are “deeply concerned that the result is unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service.”