12.12.17

Peters, Klobuchar Oppose FCC Plan to Eliminate Net Neutrality Protections

Senators Urge FCC to Focus Efforts on Closing Digital Divide, Expanding Rural Broadband

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai expressing their strong opposition to the recently released draft order to eliminate net neutrality protections. The senators also called on the FCC to focus its efforts on closing the digital divide rather than limiting net neutrality protections that help small businesses and consumers compete and succeed in the online environment. Michigan and Minnesota are home to hundreds of thousands of small businesses that rely on strong net neutrality protections to compete in the online marketplace.

“As members of the Senate Commerce Committee and strong supporters of an open internet, we write to express our opposition to the recently released draft order to eliminate net neutrality protections. Net neutrality is critical to the competitiveness of our economy and the health of small businesses and startups,” the Senators wrote. “A truly open internet encourages economic growth and provides opportunities for businesses to reach new markets, drive innovation, and create jobs. With unrestricted access to the internet, entrepreneurs can focus their resources on growing a business rather than paying for equal footing to compete online.”

“The FCC should not be pursuing policies that will slow and degrade internet access when many Americans, particularly in rural areas, still lack access to high-speed broadband entirely,” the senators continued. “As we face an increasingly global and interconnected economy, it is critical that the internet remains a hub of entrepreneurship, creativity, and fair competition.”

In light of reports that bots filed hundreds of thousands of comments to the FCC during the net neutrality policymaking process, Klobuchar, Peters, and a group of 26 other senators also urged the FCC to delay the planned December 14th vote to roll back net neutrality rules until an investigation of the record is conducted.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below and available here.

Dear Chairman Pai:

As members of the Senate Commerce Committee and strong supporters of an open internet, we write to express our opposition to the recently released draft order to eliminate net neutrality protections. Net neutrality is critical to the competitiveness of our economy and the health of small businesses and startups. The rules in place today level the playing field for entrepreneurs and protect the internet as a place that allows small businesses to succeed. Your order to repeal these rules would take us in the wrong direction.

Both Minnesota and Michigan are home to hundreds of thousands of small businesses. One way in which the draft order will hurt small business entrepreneurship and innovation is by limiting access to the open internet. A truly open internet encourages economic growth and provides opportunities for businesses to reach new markets, drive innovation, and create jobs. With unrestricted access to the internet, entrepreneurs can focus their resources on growing a business rather than paying for equal footing to compete online. Small businesses are the engines of job creation, responsible for an estimated 63 percent of net new jobs from 2010 to 2016. Without strong net neutrality protections small businesses and startups will face new barriers to compete in the online marketplace.

The landmark 2015 Open Internet Order effectively prevents major corporations from blocking, slowing, and prioritizing web traffic for their own financial gain. Your proposal not only directly eliminates these protections but also reclassifies broadband as an information service, jeopardizing the FCC’s authority to keep internet service providers (ISPs) in check. These protections are crucial to the continued success of small businesses and startups competing online.

The only open internet provisions your proposal salvages are requirements for service providers to disclose their internet traffic policies. However, the benefits of transparency rules are negated when tied to a repeal of essential net neutrality protections. If approved, your order will still result in ISPs having the power to interfere with web traffic as they please, putting small businesses, startups, and everyday users at a significant disadvantage.                                                                                                                                       

The FCC should not be pursuing policies that will slow and degrade internet access when many Americans, particularly in rural areas, still lack access to high-speed broadband entirely. We need to focus our efforts on closing the digital divide rather than creating an online environment in which the success of small businesses and consumers is at the mercy of large ISPs who are not bound to the doctrine of a free and open internet.

American consumers, entrepreneurs, and innovators rely on net neutrality. As we face an increasingly global and interconnected economy, it is critical that the internet remains a hub of entrepreneurship, creativity, and fair competition. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.