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Two FCC Commissioners Question Plan to Kill Net Neutrality

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The furor over Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to kill Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online has reached the halls of the Federal Communications Commission.

On Wednesday, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, the other Democratic commissioners, expressed serious doubts about the proposal — marking an unusual moment of public dissension from inside the building.

Rosenworcel called on Wheeler to delay the agency’s consideration of his rules by at least a month, noting the “torrent of public response” to the proposal.

“We need to respect that input, and we need time for that input,” she said in a speech. “So while I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road.”

Meanwhile, in a post on the FCC website, Clyburn noted that “tens of thousands of consumers, companies, entrepreneurs, investors, schools, educators, healthcare providers and others have reached out to ask me to keep the Internet free and open.”

“There is no doubt,” she wrote, “that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society.”

And the two commissioners weren’t the only ones sounding an alarm. More than 150 Internet companies — including bold names like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Twitter — sent a letter to the agency calling Wheeler’s pay-to-prioritize proposal “a grave threat to the Internet.”

This is big news. And the more people learn about Wheeler’s proposal, the more skeptical they become. But all of these actions were a direct result of the millions of emails and thousands of phone calls from people demanding real Net Neutrality. The companies are responding to the same outcry.

Now it’s time for Wheeler and his colleagues at the FCC to do the right thing and reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers.

That’s the only way — and I mean the only way — to ensure an open Internet for everyone.

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Craig Aaron

Craig Aaron is president and CEO of Free Press, the national, non partisan media reform group. He is the editor of two books, Appeal to Reason: 25 Years of In These Times and Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

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