A U.S. federal court’s ruling Tuesday upholding the FCC-mandated “net neutrality” rules led to very different reactions from FCC members. Two statements – one on each side of the case – reflect just how deeply “net neutrality” and Internet regulation has divided the 5-member panel.
The FCC voted 3-2 (3 Democrats for, 2 Republicans against) in favor if Internet regulation in 2015. But the latest court decision is likely to be appealed.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, hailed the ruling
“[The] D.C. Circuit court decision represents a resounding victory for the American people. The Commission relied on a voluminous record, which included more than four million comments, and demonstrated that a free and open internet is at the very heart of our American democracy. I am particularly pleased that the court upheld protections for mobile consumers, something for which I fought mightily during the lead-up to the Commission’s vote last year. The Court’s validation of that position makes clear that no matter how one accesses the internet, it will remain an open platform that enables free speech, freedom of expression and innovation to flourish.
“Since 2010, I have advocated for the strongest legal protections available to ensure that we protect these freedoms. I pushed for the inclusion of questions in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding reclassification of broadband internet access service as a telecommunications service, the treatment of traffic exchange and the evaluation of whether it was appropriate to treat mobile broadband the same as fixed broadband. I was pleased when Chairman Wheeler circulated an Order that proposed rules grounded in the strongest legal framework and ensured that mobile consumers will never be subject to a second-class internet.
“Today’s victory is indeed a shared one, where a startup in the heartland of America can compete on equal footing with an established multinational corporation. This is the free market at its best and it is what has enabled the American dream to come true for so many. I am proud to say that I stood up for these principles and am grateful that the internet will continue to be the platform for robust growth and innovation for all.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, disagreed with the decision
“The D.C. Circuit’s decision is more than disappointing, but I expect it to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court so this opinion is not necessarily the final say. If allowed to stand, however, today’s decision will be extremely detrimental to the future of the Internet and all consumers and businesses that use it. We all will rue the day the Commission was confirmed to have nearly unmitigated power over the Internet — and all based on unsubstantiated, imaginary “harms.”
“More troubling is that the majority opinion fails to apprehend the workings of the Internet, and declines to hold the FCC accountable for an order that ran roughshod over the statute, precedent, and any comments or analyses that did not support the FCC’s quest to deliver a political victory. It also confirms why every parliamentary trick in Congress was used to pack this particular court.”