Open Letter to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz

An Open Letter to Senators Cornyn and Cruz:

On May 15, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who comes from the telecom industry and who will presumably return there once his term as a regulator for the telecommunications industry ends, will reveal his proposal that is expected to represent a turning point in the history of the Internet. There are indications that he will be moving us away from net neutrality. the concept that ISPs can’t prioritize or de-prioritize certain internet traffic and towards a “commercially reasonable” litmus test. In other words, ISPs will likely be allowed to treat online traffic however they please as long as people like Tom Wheeler deem what they decide to do “commercially reasonable.”
Wheeler has been an executive at two lobbying groups: he was the President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and the CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). I have to infer, based on that history and the news that he plans institute the “commercially reasonable” standard, that these new rules are designed to benefit the major telecom and ISP companies rather than the public at large.

This is a prime example of regulatory capture: the current chairman of the FCC was an executive at lobbying firms for the industry he’s now regulating. The fox is in the henhouse, and the FCC can’t be trusted to do the right thing when they’re controlled opposition for the companies they’re supposed to be keeping in check.

As such, I am asking you to introduce a simple bill that would re-classify ISPs as Title II common carriers and which would briefly clarify that ISPs may neither prioritize nor de-prioritize any information flowing through their networks.

Failing to prevent the decay of net neutrality would have widespread consequences. If the FCC is allowed to apply a “commercially reasonable” standard at Tom Wheeler’s discretion, we will see the stifling of both online activism and the free association of like-minded individuals online and, almost inevitably, an assault on the freedom of the press (Did a muckraking journalist just publish a groundbreaking investigation of the ISP industry? Guess what webpage isn’t going to be loading anytime soon.).
Please do not allow ISPs to dictate the future of the First Amendment.
Do the right thing and re-classify ISPs as common carriers.

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