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Progressive Caucus Sends Letter to FCC Chairman Demanding Net Neutrality

WASHINGTON – Ahead of tomorrow’s Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) meeting to propose new Internet speed and pricing policies, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) sent FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a letter today urging strong consumer protections that will prevent anti-competitive behavior that could impact consumer access to online content. The letter, co-signed by 34 House Democratic colleagues, calls on Wheeler to “adopt strong and enforceable open Internet rules that proactively protect Internet users from unfair practices, including the blockage of lawful traffic or discrimination among content providers[.]”

The letter supports Net Neutrality, which would preserve high-speed Internet service for the entire country and prevent Internet service providers (ISP) from enacting pricing schemes, where web companies would have to pay higher fees to gain access to an internet “fast lane.” Net Neutrality also prevents Internet service providers from favoring some sites over others at customers’ expense.

As the letter says, “Recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers under the law is common sense. Reclassification would also complement the Commission’s efforts to promote innovation, competition and investment in universally available, reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure. Over one million people have already gone on the record in support of reclassification.”

The FCC will meet tomorrow amid widespread public demand for the preservation of Net Neutrality and continued government support for equal access to the Internet.

In addition to Grijalva and Ellison, signatories include Reps. Barbara Lee, Conyers, John Lewis, McGovern, Grayson, Huffman, Takano, Edwards, Pocan, Honda, Cicilline, Nadler, Norton, Lowenthal, Kaptur, Holt, Defazio, Capuano, Serrano, Schakowsky, Carson, Blumenauer, Tierney, Shea-Porter,  Farr, Rangel, McCollum, McDermott, Lofgren, O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bobby Scott, Sarbanes, Michaud and Visclosky. The letter is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Free Press, Democracy for America, Moveon.org, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Daily Kos, The Other 98%, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Color of Change and Presente.org.

The text of the letter is below. A PDF with signatures is available at http://1.usa.gov/T7os3E

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

As you develop a proposal to oversee access to the Internet, we urge you to adopt strong and enforceable open Internet rules that proactively protect Internet users from unfair practices, including the blockage of lawful traffic or discrimination among content providers by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The rules must preserve the Internet as the open platform that it is today by recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers. Without strong protections, the Internet could devolve into a closed platform in which those who pay the most can overwhelm other views and ideas.

We agree with your previous statements and those from President Obama that expressed similar concerns. ISPs will continue to explore ways to boost revenue by imposing discriminatory charges that will decrease the openness of the Internet. There is ample evidence that protecting the open Internet against such threats is critical for users and businesses alike. However, reports indicate that the current FCC proposal creates an Internet fast lane that would prioritize some Internet traffic and allow ISPs to discriminate against everyone else. The FCC cannot protect the open Internet by allowing discrimination. 

We urge the FCC to use its clear authority under Title II of the Communications Act to reclassify the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service.  Recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers under the law is common sense. Reclassification would also complement the Commission’s efforts to promote innovation, competition and investment in universally available, reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure.

Over one million people have already gone on the record in support of reclassification.  We urge the FCC to consider this support for strong, enforceable open Internet rules as it moves forward with the rulemaking process.

Sincerely,

CC:      Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

            Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

            Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

            Michael O’Reilly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission