FCC urged to delay net neutrality vote in public interest

Tuesday 5 December 2017 | 08:27 CET | News

Public interest and consumer groups from all over the US, as well as local government agencies including New York City, have called on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the 14 December vote on rolling back net neutrality rules pending a court decision. The letter backed by Washington DC-based public interest group Public Knowledge was sent after the FCC released Pai's proposal for net neutrality, confirming he plans to overturn much of the previous Open Internet order, preventing providers from charging customers higher fees for high-quality video streaming.

However, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering a case that could limit the scope of the Federal Trade Commission’s authority over internet service providers, above all regarding how they handle web traffic, with a ruling expected soon. In the letter, the group states that “rushing to a vote before the 9th Circuit resolves this decision cavalierly risks the purported safeguards that you and other supporters of the Draft Order have repeatedly declared will protect consumers from abusive or anti-competitive practices."

The letter goes on to explain that if the FCC reverses existing rules and the court rules against the commission, there would be an inevitable regulatory gap “that would leave consumers utterly unprotected."

Last week, over 200 internet companies including Twitter, Reddit, Airbnb, Shutterstock, Tumblr and Vimeo signed another letter asking the FCC to scrap its plans, arguing that “an internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”

New York’s attorney general also urged the Federal Communications Commission to delay the vote rolling back net neutrality rules, because of the large number of fake comments submitted to the agency during its public consultation on the matter. The AG has been investigating allegations that more than half of the 21.7 million public comments submitted to the FCC used temporary or duplicate email addresses and appeared to include false or misleading information.

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