Today, Public Knowledge joined 40 other consumer protection groups, digital divide advocates, and local government agencies — including New York City — in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote on the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Draft Order, which would roll back the agency’s net neutrality rules if adopted. Specifically, the groups propose the FCC delay the vote until a pending court case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit — the en banc review in Federal Trade Commission v. AT&T Mobility — resolves.
Groups urge this delay because the Ninth Circuit might decide that the FTC has no jurisdiction over broadband providers. If so, and if the FCC rolls back the net neutrality rules December 14, then neither the FTC nor the FCC will have the authority to regulate broadband providers. Public Knowledge contends that this would leave consumers at the mercy of internet service providers.
The letter states:
“Rushing to a vote before the Ninth Circuit resolves this decision cavalierly risks the purported safeguards that you and other supporters of the Draft Order have repeatedly declared will protect consumers from abusive or anti-competitive practices.
“Astoundingly, after committing the entire future of consumer protection from broadband access providers to the FTC, the Draft Order cavalierly dismisses the ongoing litigation that deprived the FTC of any jurisdiction to carry out the job[…] The question that should concern the Commission is whether or not the en banc panel will likewise deprive the FTC of jurisdiction over broadband access providers.”
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“If Chairman Pai and his fellow Republicans truly believe that the FTC will protect consumers, they have a responsibility to wait for the Ninth Circuit to decide if the FTC can actually do the job. Charter has already sought to have NY State’s consumer protection lawsuit dismissed based on the FCC’s broad preemption of state law in the Draft Order. If the Ninth Circuit affirms the original decision in favor of AT&T, the ‘enforceable’ commitments of broadband providers will be unenforceable by either the states or the Federal Trade Commission. If that happens, what protections would consumers have left? None. And apparently, the FCC is fine with that.”
You may view the letter here.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.