As FCC Readies New Net Neutrality Rules, Telecom Giants Plan Legal and Legislative Offensive

Posted Feb. 11, 2015

MP3 Interview with Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner, conducted by Scott Harris

netneutrality

When President Obama issued a statement on Nov. 10 declaring his public support for net neutrality, a principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally, it was considered likely that the Federal Communications chairperson he had appointed, Tom Wheeler, would fall into line and issue new rules.

It was less than a year ago in May 2014 that Wheeler proposed a tiered Internet system where a fee based system would determine the speed at which content would be delivered to consumers, primarily benefitting telcom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. The public’s response was quick and decidedly negative. Four million people sent public comments to the FCC objecting to his scheme.

Responding to growing public pressure and following the lead of his boss in the White House, Wheeler backed away from his earlier proposal and on Feb. 4 announced that he will issue new net neutrality rules anchored to Title II of the Communications Act, a strategy open internet activists had been advocating for many years. The five FCC Commissioners are expected to vote on Wheeler’s new rules on Feb. 26.

While it appears that new net neutrality rules regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility will be approved, it’s likely that those rules will very quickly come under attack. Big cable and phone companies have signaled that they’re ready to file lawsuits and send an army of lobbyists to push for legislation that will disable new FCC Internet regulations. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who talks about the significance of the proposed FCC net neutrality rules, the important role played by grass roots activism and the important battles that still must be fought.

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who served on the Commission from 2001 to 2011. He now works as a special advisor to Common Cause. Find information on groups continuing to campaign to preserve Internet freedom by visiting CommonCause project, the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative (commoncause.org), Save The Internet (savetheinternet.org) and Free Press (freepress.net).

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