WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined colleagues in urging Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the FCC’s December 14th vote to repeal net neutrality rules until the full impact of repeal could be considered, in accordance with Pai’s own standards of rulemaking.
In a letter sent to Pai, the Senators quoted Pai’s statements from his dissent of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the 2015 Open Internet Order, which established the rules – known as net neutrality – that protect the open internet.
In his dissent, Pai reprimanded his FCC colleagues for their failure to “give the American people a full and fair opportunity to participate in this process,” and “ensure that [FCC’s] decisions are based on a robust record.” To meet these standards, Pai suggested commissioning a series of studies by ten economists that would fully evaluate the impact of net neutrality.
“Accordingly, we ask that you heed your own advice and delay your planned vote on this item until you have faithfully executed all of the steps outlined above and provided the American people ‘a full and fair opportunity to participate in this process,’” wrote the Senators.
The full text of the Senators’ letter is available for download here, and copied below.
Dear Chairman Pai:
We understand that you intend the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vote on your draft order to dismantle our current net neutrality rules at the upcoming Open Commission Meeting on Thursday, December 14. We write calling on you to delay this vote.
As you will remember, in your dissent of the 2015 Open Internet Order (Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, GN Docket No. 14-28), you stated:
“Going forward, we need to give the American people a full and fair opportunity to participate in this process. And we must ensure that our decisions are based on a robust record.
“So what is the way forward? Here is one suggestion. Just as we commissioned a series of economic studies in past media-ownership proceedings, we should ask ten distinguished economists from across the country to study the impact of our proposed regulations and alternative approaches on the Internet ecosystem. To ensure that we obtain a wide range of perspectives, let each Commissioner pick two authors. To ensure accuracy, each study should be peer reviewed. And to ensure public oversight, we should host a series of hearings where Commissioners could question the authors of the studies and the authors of those studies could discuss their differences. Surely the future of the Internet is no less important than media ownership.
“But we should not limit ourselves to economic studies. We should also engage computer scientists, technologists, and other technical experts to tell us how they see the Internet’s infrastructure and consumers’ online experience evolving. Their studies too should be subject to peer review and public hearings.”
Accordingly, we ask that you heed your own advice and delay your planned vote on this item until you have faithfully executed all of the steps outlined above and provided the American people “a full and fair opportunity to participate in this process.” It is vital that all aspects of the draft order are subject to the same peer review and public hearings you have always advocated. This is necessary to ensure “our decisions are based on a robust record.”
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.