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FCC Must Act to Preserve Open Internet

Appeals Court Leaves Consumers Vulnerable to Profiteering Telecoms

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission must step up to protect consumer interests and preserve the Open Internet in the wake of a federal appeals court ruling jeopardizing the easy access to popular websites and applications enjoyed by millions of Americans, Common Cause said today.

"The Court’s decision today is poised to end the free, open, and uncensored Internet that we have come to rely on," said former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Initiative.

"People depend on the Open Internet to connect and communicate with each other freely. Voters need it to inform themselves before casting ballots. Without prompt corrective action by the Commission to reclassify broadband, this awful ruling will serve as a sorry memorial to the corporate abrogation of free speech," Copps added.

In its decision striking down the FCC's current Open Internet ("net neutrality") rules, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit found that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast have the right to control user access to lawful sites and applications. The ruling means that ISPs are now free to levy special charges or deny customers access to particular sites or web applications.

The Court’s decision grows out of the FCC’s classification of ISPs as “information service” providers. While federal law gives the commission limited authority to regulate such services, the FCC could continue to protect the Open Internet if it re-classified broadband as a "telecommunications service," Copps said.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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