WASHINGTON, DC – Mayor Muriel Bowser today joined the mayors of New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Boston in submitting a signed letter with 50 cities urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to maintain the current rules protecting the free and open internet.
By prohibiting blocking, prioritization and other discriminatory practices, these rules enforce openness, equity and non-discrimination. The rules enable the internet to thrive as a platform for the innovation that will drive the future American economy.
The letter, addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, reinforces the nondiscrimination principles first called for in a 2014 U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution:
- Commitment to transparency;
- The free flow of information over the internet;
- No blocking of lawful websites;
- No unreasonable discrimination of lawful network traffic; and
- No paid prioritization
“It is essential that all District residents be provided equal opportunities to economic growth and have transparent, equal and inclusive access to the internet without the threat of discrimination,” says Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Repealing these rules would have a negative impact on middle and working-class families and limit access to different types of online content and services to those who simply cannot afford to pay more.”
Without a clear and enforceable national policy of network neutrality, network owners could favor their own or their partners’ content, applications, and devices over others, thereby impeding the free flow of information, innovation and user choice. The lack of a regulatory framework for broadband providers would only exacerbate potential threats to the continued openness and vibrancy of the Internet, as well as the quality of services District residents and businesses may receive.
“We stand with the community – both public and private – in defense of net neutrality rules,” said District Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli. “Net Neutrality is fundamentally about equity. It is the government’s role to provide regulatory oversight and always protect the best interest of its citizens – that is to ensure free and open internet. Removing the current Title II classification of broadband Internet access service would disable the Commission from enforcing the rules that are essential to preserving and protecting the rights of our residents. Every citizen must have equal access to all lawful content using any lawful device.”
Further, by charging providers for prioritized access to District residents, broadband providers would have an incentive to degrade or decline to increase the quality of the service they provide to non-prioritized traffic, creating a tiered system of access only benefitting those that can afford it.
The FCC’s 2015 Order Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet reclassified internet service as a telecommunication service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The move came after a lengthy legal and regulatory process during which nearly 4 million people submitted comments, mostly in favor of strong open internet protections under Title II. We urge the Commission not to reverse the current Title II classification of broadband Internet access service.