Senators urge FCC to delay net neutrality vote

Levi Sumagaysay, The Mercury News on

Published in Business News

As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to vote Dec. 14 to repeal net neutrality rules, opponents are fighting to the end.

The FCC is set to dismantle regulations, put in place under President Barack Obama, that are meant to ensure that all online content is treated equally. The hard-fought rules were approved in 2015 after years of debate and lawsuits.

Now, 28 U.S. senators have asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote after questions about the 21 million-plus comments about net neutrality sent to the agency.

The senators are all Democrats and led by Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

"Without additional information about the alleged anomalies surrounding the public record, the FCC cannot conduct a thorough and fair evaluation of the public's views on this topic, and should not move forward with a vote," Hassan and the other senators wrote in a letter dated Monday.

Pai's office did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

But when asked recently about New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation into the public's comments to the FCC about net neutrality, a spokesman for Pai pushed back.

"This so-called investigation is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama administration's heavy-handed internet regulations to gain publicity for himself," he said in an email Nov. 22.

The FCC, composed of three Republicans and two Democrats, is widely expected to kill net neutrality in favor of what Pai and the Republicans call "light-touch regulation." The Democratic commissioners are against Pai's plan.


"While I fundamentally disagree with the merits of the FCC's proposal, what is equally concerning is the lack of integrity to the FCC's process that has led to this point," Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the Democratic commissioners, said Monday in a statement after a news conference with Schneiderman. "The FCC has held zero public hearings. The FCC has knowingly maintained a system that has already been corrupted and is susceptible to abuse."

The other Democratic FCC commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, is calling attention to consumer complaints against ISPs over net neutrality.

"50,000 #NetNeutrality consumer complaints vs. the @FCC majority's draft order that says no conduct rules are necessary," Clyburn posted on Twitter Monday. "Anyone else see the irony?"

Meanwhile, organizers say they expect more than 600 protests in Verizon stores in all 50 states and at lawmakers' offices in Washington Thursday, a week before the vote.

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