WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union commends the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) announcement of a new notice of proposed rulemaking to reinstate both vital net neutrality regulations and broadband’s classification as a Title II service.
In 2015, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order. This order classified broadband as a Title II service – granting the FCC full regulatory authority over the internet. It also required internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally, and forbade them from activities like blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. However, in 2017, former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai repealed this rule – leaving the agency designed to regulate communications services without the ability to promote access to reliable, affordable, high quality broadband and protect consumers’ ability to access the internet on their own terms.
“We thank the FCC for moving swiftly to begin the process of reinstating net neutrality regulations. The internet is our nation’s primary marketplace of ideas – and it’s critical that access to that marketplace is not controlled by the profit-seeking whims of powerful telecommunications giants,” said Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the ACLU. “As the expert agency tasked with regulating communications services, it is critical that the FCC have the ability to regulate one of the most important communications mechanisms of our time – broadband. We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that it uses Title II authority to make sure that everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or income, has access to high speed, reliable, and affordable internet.”
A 2019 poll found that more than 80 percent of Americans supported the concept of net neutrality. During the Trump administration, the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality and reclassify broadband posed a serious threat to our ability to communicate online. Without robust protections in place, what we can see on the internet, along with the quality of our connection, is at risk of falling victim to the whims of internet service providers. We must protect the FCC’s ability to close the digital divide and to ensure free and open access to the internet.