Rosenworcel Raising Ruckus Over Net Neutrality

Cites #MeToo movement to illustrate importance of Title II-based rules

Newly recommissioned FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is ready for a fight over rolling back Title II, though now that the Democrat is in the minority, it is clearly an uphill climb.

Rosenworcel joined with fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn on Capitol Hill Wednesday (Nov. 1) to rally the net-neutrality troops given that Republican agency chair Ajit Pai is widely expected later this month to circulate, for a vote by the end of the year, an order on reclassifying ISPs as non-common carrier information services.

The FCC voted to propose that reclassification last May, before Rosenworcel's return to the commission.

Invoking Martin Luther King's phrase "the fierce urgency of now," Rosenworcel said she was feeling some of that fierce urgency about net neutrality now.

"I feel that there are things that urgently need attention, that urgently need a voice, that urgently need a ruckus," she said, and net neutrality is one of them.

Rosenworcel noted that it took a decade and three court decisions, but the 2015 Open Internet Order, which she helped approve, got it right and was now "legally viable and wildly popular"(except, to be fair, with Republicans and ISPs).

She said the Pai proposal tears at the foundations of net neutrality and hands ISPs the power to become "censors and gatekeepers for all that is online."

As an example of the kind of online voices that could be silenced by rolling back the rules, Rosenworcel cited the #MeToo movement, where people -- many for the first time -- have shared their experiences of sexual assault.

"This is the civil rights promise of our new digital square," she said. "Rolling back net neutrality will curb that square. It will provide our broadband providers with the power to decide what voices we amplify, which sites we visit, what connections we make and what communities we create. We can’t let that happen."