AG Healey to FCC: Preserve Net Neutrality Protections
AG Healey Joins Multistate Effort to Ensure Open Access to the Internet
BOSTON –Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of attorneys general to oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to rollback critical consumer protections assuring open access to the internet.
In comments submitted to the FCC today, the attorneys general argue that consumers should continue to enjoy open access to the internet and have equal access to all content providers – which the FCC’s “Open Internet” rules currently ensure.
“The internet was created to provide access to an open exchange of ideas and content and we can’t allow a few powerful companies to control it,” said AG Healey. “That’s why I am joining with my colleagues across the country to urge the FCC to keep the Internet an open and accessible place for all.”
In 2015, the FCC enacted the Open Internet rules to protect consumers from interference when they use the internet by classifying fixed and mobile broadband internet access service as a telecommunications service and prohibiting internet service providers from engaging in practices that interfere with how consumers access the online content of their choosing.
These rules prevent ISPs from blocking access to internet sites, slowing down or “throttling” speeds, or accepting payment for priority delivery of certain content over others. The rules also require disclosure ISP of policies affecting network management.
The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s Open Internet rules in their entirety in United States Telecom Association v. FCC, 825 F.3d 674. However, the FCC’s new chairman has initiated a proceeding to revisit these rules claiming that they are burdensome and unnecessary and that they have reduced investment.
In comments filed today, the attorneys general argue that there is no basis to reverse or dilute the rules. Without net neutrality, the attorneys general maintain, ISPs could charge content providers for priority treatment, or access to an internet “fast lane.” They emphasize the role that net neutrality and non-discrimination principles play in furthering vigorous competition and innovation online by enabling startup businesses an equal platform to provide new content to consumers at the same speed as established providers.
“Consumers’ free access to third-party sites and mobile applications has allowed Internet service to become an integral part of everyday life. Just as consumers expect that they will be able to call any number through their telephone company, they expect that they will be able to reach any website through their ISP. Without enforceable rules assuring that their ISPs will deliver all content and services as requested, there are no guarantees that consumers will not be deprived of the freedom they now enjoy when they go online,” the comments state.
The FCC proposes to roll back the classification of ISPs as common carriers and to change or eliminate the rules that guarantee an open internet. The attorneys general said without these rules, ISPs will be free to favor their own content over third-party sites, and consumers will lose internet freedom to visit and obtain content from any site of the consumer’s choice without interference.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan led the filing of today’s comments, along with attorneys general from the following states: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, and Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection.