Congress

Sen. Wyden Hammers Pai, ISPs over Title II

One of Title II's staunchest supporters rallies Free Press troops 6/12/2017 8:35 AM Eastern

Sen. Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) took to the Free Press Web site Friday (June 9) to rally the activist troops against FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back the common carrier regulation of Internet access and review rules against blocking, degrading and paid prioritization.

Wyden is one of the senate's fiercest critics of the proposal, and took to the Free Press Web site to hammer Pai and ISPs. "If Pai gets his way, massive cable and phone companies will have the power to control what we see and do online, creating “fast lanes” for those who can afford to pay — and leaving the rest of us in the dust," he said.

Wyden said that there have been net neutrality rules since the inception of the Internet, something ISPs dispute. "Abandoning control of the internet to the handful of companies that provide broadband service would allow them to bury the speech of those they don’t agree with and kill competition from startups before they even get off the ground," he said.

ISPs argue that they don't throttle or block speech and are willing to live under commitments not to do so, preferably voluntary ones, but that a common carriage regime is grafting phone-style regs on Internet-style communications, which they argue depresses investment and innovation.

"Despite Pai’s claim that he supports Net Neutrality, the proceeding he opened last month attacks not only the legal authority underpinning the rules — which is absolutely vital for enforcing them — but seeks to overturn these protections altogether," Wyden wrote. "If Pai gets his way, Net Neutrality will be gone for good and people will be left with only the empty promises of big cable companies to protect them online."

Free Press and others plan a July 12 day of protest over Pai's proposal, which is still gathering comment, and lots of it, from the public (4.97 million comments at press time, according to the FCC web site), though how much of that comment has been driven by "bots" from both sides of the issue is a point of some contention.

The official comment period on the proposal runs through Aug. 16, though the FCC historically continues to accept input beyond those official comment dates.

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