TechCrunch reports The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Friday it would extend the net neutrality reply comment period from September 10 to September 15. The commission has already received more than 1.1 million comments, which it released to the public last week. That is the largest number of comments the FCC has ever received, with the exception of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004, which garnered 1.4 million comments. With three extra days, net neutrality commenters will likely beat that. The deadline for the reply comment period was pushed back to match the extension of the initial comment period, which occurred in July after the FCC experienced issues with its website. Because the first comment period was extended three additional business days and the reply period then started later, the FCC extended the period for reply comments. "To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the Bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days," the FCC said in a release. So keep your comments coming! Related: FCC Extends Internet Slow Lane Comment Period
CHARLES E. GRASSLEY
WASHINGTON, DC 20510-1501
721 FEDERAL BUILDING
210 WALNUT STREET
DES MOINES, IA 50309-2140
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Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts on the Internet. As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you.
The Internet has thrived beyond our imagination and I am suspicious of legislation or regulations that could inhibit the Internet’s impact and growth. I understand how vital the Internet is to users and consumers, and I want to continue to ensure that it is allowed to grow and flourish. The Internet not only provides us with a way to communicate and share information, but it also adds tremendous value to our economy through the commerce it allows.
On October 22, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held its monthly open meeting and adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to seek comment on "the best means of preserving a free and open Internet.” The NPR sought comment on proposed rules to codify the four principles contained in the FCC's 2005 Internet Policy statement, and codify two additional principles. The first requires a broadband Internet access provider to treat lawful content, applications, and services the same. The other to require transparency concerning network management practices.
On April 6, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the FCC lacked the authority to require Internet providers to treat all Internet traffic the same on their network. Essentially, the court ruled the FCC had no authority to regulate the Internet whatsoever. For the FCC to be allowed to regulate the Internet, Congress would need to pass legislation to allow the FCC to do so.
In a far reaching attempt to regulate the Internet, then FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced plans to reclassify telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to try and reach his goal of allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet. On May 24, 2010, I signed onto a letter with Senate colleagues to Chairman Genachowski urging him to reject any attempt to reclassify telecommunications services. Anticipating the FCC’s next move on this issue, I signed an additional letter on December 15, 2010 with 28 other Senators urging the FCC to abandon this measure. However, on December 20, 2010, the FCC adopted the Title II regulations under what is advocated as ‘net neutrality’.
On November 10, 2011, I voted in favor of S. J. Resolution 6, a resolution disapproving the FCC’s rule to regulate the Internet. The resolution was defeated by a vote of 46 to 52. I voted for this resolution because I disapproved of what the FCC was doing by ignoring the will of the Judiciary and Congress.
On December 21, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted another Open Internet rule. This order required broadband Internet service providers to disclose their network traffic management policies and prohibited them from blocking any lawful content from travelling over their networks. The rule also prohibited fixed broadband Internet service providers from unreasonably discriminating against any particular content.
The rules were challenged in federal court by a number of different companies. In Verizon v. FCC, Verizon argued that the FCC did not assert enough statutory authority to issue the rules.
In January 2014, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision finding that the FCC did have the authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to issue the rules. However, the court vacated both the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules, nonetheless. The court found that, although the FCC had reasonably interpreted the authority granted to it by Section 706, the agency could not promulgate rules under that section that otherwise violated the Communications Act of 1934. Because the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules were prohibited by another portion of the Communications Act, the court struck down the rules.
On May 16, 2014, the FCC voted, by a vote of 3-2, to permit a notice of proposed rulemaking to proceed to a period of open comment on a new Open Internet rule. The following are some of the main parts of the proposal as presented by the FCC:
• Proposes to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules, which governed broadband Internet access service providers, but not services like enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange and specialized services.
• Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.
• Asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor “screen” to analyze whether any conduct hurts consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal standard termed “commercial reasonableness.”
• Asks a series of detailed questions about what legal authority provides the most effective means of keeping the Internet open: Section 706 or Title II.
The FCC is accepting comments for four months from May 16th. I will carefully monitor this matter as the rule making process continues.
Overall, there is a lot of misinformation in this debate about how Internet transmission has always worked. There have long been prioritization contracts, and the FCC does not have to provide express permission for these deals. Commissioner O’Reilly pointed out that “companies that do business over the Internet, including some of the strongest supporters of net neutrality, routinely pay for a variety of services to ensure the best possible experience for their consumers. They’ve been doing it for years. …In short, fears that paid prioritization will automatically degrade service for other users, relegating them to a so-called “slow lane,” have been disproven by years of experience.” While some people liken these voluntary contracts to paying tolls, businesses will always enter these deals as a company’s cost-to-market so that they can bring the consumer a desirable experience.
An example of this practice is Amazon.com and it’s free shipping policy. Is Amazon.com paying a toll to the shipping company they engage to deliver their products? Amazon.com is willing to pay for the cost of its shipping to provide their customers a better experience, and many consumers choose to shop at Amazon.com for that reason. However, not all businesses choose to follow the same business model. Does that mean that the federal government should issue a regulation prohibiting Amazon.com from providing free shipping to its consumers because it is a competitive advantage? It is important for consumers to really understand what their own best interests are in this discussion so we can have choice, competition, and a dynamic Internet.
This issue has garnered a lot of attention in Congress; there have been multiple letters and bills regarding an open Internet. In the Senate, the Commerce Committee has primary jurisdiction over the FCC and most matters regarding the Internet. While I am not a member of that committee, should legislation make its way to the full Senate for debate or a vote, I will be sure to keep your thoughts and comments in mind.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of federal matters that are important to you. My offices in Iowa, as well as in Washington, D.C., are here to serve you.
I responded with some counter-points and my original letter supported common carrier in no uncertain terms. I am sure the staffer that read the response just deleted it.
Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing your views regarding network neutrality.
Since the Internet's inception, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken a hands-off approach to regulating the Internet. However, in recent years, companies that provide broadband services have sought to block or slow internet traffic from certain websites rather than treating all internet traffic equally.
I am proud to support efforts to ensure that consumers have full access to all internet content regardless of what broadband provider they utilize. In 2010, under the leadership of Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC issued new rules that restricted broadband Internet providers and mobile providers from blocking content and applications and required broadband providers to publicly disclose their network management practices. In January 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down those rules finding that the FCC exceeded its authority in effort to ensure neutral treatment of all network traffic.
On May 15, 2014, the FCC issued a new notice of approved rulemaking (NPRM) that describes possible options for ensuring network neutrality. As part of this process, the FCC has asked for public comments on this issue. For more information on how to submit your comments, I encourage you to visit the FCC's website at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/howtocomment.html [fcc.gov]
Rest assured, I will continue to monitor this issue. Although the various options will be pending before the FCC over the next few months, I am seriously concerned that the proposed rules may not be sufficient to ensure neutral treatment of internet content and could allow broadband providers to engage in agreements with content providers to give preferential and faster access to some content.
Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any issue that concerns you.