On Senate Floor, Brown Calls For Restoration of Net Neutrality Rules to Protect Free and Open Internet

This Week, Brown Filed Petition to Force Senate Vote on Reinstating Net Neutrality Rules

Download production-quality video of Senator Brown’s floor speech HERE.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor to call for the reinstatement of net neutrality rules in order to protect Ohioans’ right to a free and open internet. Brown joined a petition this week to force a Senate vote overturning the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of net neutrality rules. With a majority of Senators having signed the petition, the Senate will have vote on preserving net neutrality rules by June 12.      

“Rolling back these net neutrality rules will hurt the very people we all claim to want to help – small businesses, startups, students, Americans looking for jobs,” said Brown. “The internet doesn’t belong to a wealthy few – it belongs to the people we were sent here to represent.”

In December, the FCC voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, which prohibits internet service providers from setting up internet fast and slow lanes and ensured they could not block or slow down internet traffic. The FCC announced this week that the net neutrality rules will end on June 11.

Since the vote, Brown has been fighting to keep the internet free and open from corporate interference, including: 

  • Brown and several of his colleagues introduced a resolution of disapproval to rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s move and fully restore the Open Internet Order.
  • Ahead of the repeal vote in December, Brown requested the FCC delay the vote in two separate letters, available here and here.
  • Brown also lead his colleagues in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the planned December 14 vote to roll back net neutrality rules until an investigation be conducted after reports that bots filed hundreds of thousands of comments to the FCC during the rulemaking process.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below.

When you look at what this body has done over the past year and a half, one theme is pretty clear: big corporations get handout after handout, while ordinary American consumers get the shaft.

We saw it with the tax bill, where more than 80 percent of the benefits are going to the top one percent by the end of the decade, and reports show corporations have funneled their tax savings to executives and investors over workers by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

We see it with the rollback of protections for consumers, making it easier for big banks and payday lenders to take advantage of their customers, and denying those customers their day in court when they’re cheated.

Now the question is, are we going to see it again with net neutrality?

Are my colleagues going to allow corporate special interests to shut down the free and open internet, or for once, is this body going to stand up for the people we serve?

Net neutrality rules keep the internet free from corporate interference. Protecting those rules is vital to protecting free speech, consumer choice, and access to public information.

But last December, the FCC voted to repeal those rules – allowing internet providers to slow down internet speeds, and offer better connectivity to the highest bidder.

Without net neutrality rules, broadband providers could charge customers more for faster speeds, which would squeeze out startups, nonprofits, and consumers who can’t afford to pay an extra fee.

You could be forced to pay for internet packages the way you do for cable packages – paying more for popular sites, and to have pages load faster.

Anyone who’s ever been on the phone negotiating packages with their cable company knows how frustrating it can be, and where this could be headed.

High-speed internet is expensive enough as it is, and customers already have too few choices. In some places, Ohioans have no choice at all.

Not too many years ago, I was talking to a high school sophomore who told me she can’t study at home because she doesn’t have access to high-speed internet because she lives in a valley. She goes to her grandmother’s house up on a hill to study so she can do her schoolwork.

A free and open internet also levels the playing field for entrepreneurs and startups to compete with big corporations.

So many of my colleagues love to talk about their support for business. But which businesses?

It’s small businesses that drive job creation. Small businesses create two thirds of all net new jobs. And these are the companies that will be hurt the most if the biggest corporations are allowed to gauge them for internet fees.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We all know internet is vital to modern life and modern businesses.

Today I talked to a small business owner from Cleveland, Helen Qin.

She and Jesse Mason started Mason’s Ice Cream as a food truck that would go to local farmers markets. Using tools from Google and others, they were able to grow a following for their business.

In 2014, they’d had so much success, they were able to buy an old, iconic walk-up ice cream shop in Ohio City, and are now operating full-time, employing local Clevelanders, and partnering with other small businesses in the neighborhood.

And this Friday, Helen and Jesse will join me in Cleveland for the Grow with Google summit, to talk to other small businesses and entrepreneurs and jobseekers about the best techniques for using the internet to grow businesses and find jobs.

Why on earth would we want to make that harder and more expensive?

Rolling back these net neutrality rules will hurt the very people we all claim to want to help – small businesses, startups, students, Americans looking for jobs.

That’s why today we’re filing a petition to get moving on a bill to overturn this disastrous decision and reinstate net neutrality rules.

This is another question of whose side you’re on.

Are my colleagues going to stand with the biggest telecomm corporations, that could slow down the internet and slow down the economy to pad their own bottom lines?

Or are we going to stand with the people we serve – with the hardworking Americans and small businesses and students and entrepreneurs who need access to the internet?

The internet doesn’t belong to a wealthy few – it belongs to the people we were sent here to represent. I hope all my colleagues will join me in supporting this petition, and protecting a free and open internet.