Yesterday, Public Knowledge and eight other public interest groups sent a letter to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to preserve the Federal Communications Commission authority over broadband. This letter comes in advance of today’s Judiciary hearing on the appropriate respective jurisdiction of the FCC in an online world. The letter seeks to clarify that both antitrust law and proactive regulatory authority are essential tools for protecting consumers in the broadband marketplace.
The following can be attributed to Kate Forscey, Internet Rights Fellow for Public Knowledge:
“Some members of the committee have asked whether antitrust law is sufficient on its own to address broadband policy in the digital age. As on all previous occasions anyone has seriously looked at this question, the answer, once again, is ‘no.’ Furthermore, the timing and framing of this hearing, ‘Wrecking the Internet to Save It,’ following a similar hearing in February, suggests that no one on the Committee seriously wants to debate the question. Rather, this appears to be yet another effort spurred by cable and telephone lobbyists to punish the FCC for doing its job.
“The FCC and FTC occupy complementary roles in the quest to promote competition and consumer protection. Antitrust is narrowly tailored to provide redress to very specific harms, and only after the fact. In keeping with the importance of the Open Internet in our daily lives, however, the FCC has a broader mandate to craft policies that not only prevent harms from occurring in the first place, but also actively promote network deployment, competition, consumer protection, and innovation.
“Stripping the FCC of its authority will only leave consumers vulnerable and encourage cable and telephone companies to continue to push the envelope on abusive practices. We urge members to recognize the important roles both agencies play in protecting consumers and fostering competition and innovation on the Internet.”
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