The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“Today’s Appeals Court decision means there are no protections in the law for consumers’ broadband services. Companies selling Internet access are free to play favorites with content on their networks, to throttle certain applications or simply to block others. In addition, as of now, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ambitious National Broadband Plan to help boost the economy is in legal limbo. The ability of the FCC to support broadband through universal service is in jeopardy, as is the agency’s ability to protect consumer privacy, ensure access to broadband-based emergency communications or promote access to broadband for the disabled. In our view, the FCC needs to move quickly and decisively to make sure that consumers are not left at the mercy of telephone and cable companies.
“If it chooses, the Commission can continue to roll the dice and let the courts decide each time it wants to try to put some consumer protections on a broadband service. The court decision left open that option.
“We have a different idea. The FCC should immediately start a proceeding bringing Internet access service back under some common carrier regulation similar to that used for decades. Some parts of the Communications Act, which prohibit unjust and unreasonable discrimination, could be applied here. The Commission would not have to impose a heavy regulatory burden on the telephone and cable companies, yet consumers could once again have the benefit of legal protections and the Broadband Plan could go forward. The American public deserves no less.
“We need to emphasize that no one is talking about regulating ‘the Internet.’ No one is talking about regulating search engines or Web sites. We are talking about re-applying policies to a telecommunications service that the FCC incorrectly abandoned. That is the most simple solution and it’s the correct one.”
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