UPDATE: The FCC scrapped net neutrality in a 3-2 party line vote, lifting consumer protections that prevented internet service providers from throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes on the web. In effect, the internet—despite being created by tax dollars—is no longer a public utility.
Santa Clara County supervisors held a press conference today to announce plans to team up with Stanford Law School’s Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic to sue the FCC, calling its decision today illegal and harmful to the economy.
“The FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules is arbitrary and unjustified, and it is therefore unlawful,” County Counsel James Williams said. “We will fight to protect the open internet, preserve the county’s ability to provide crucial health and safety services to our residents, and ensure that innovation continues to thrive in Silicon Valley.”
County Supervisor Joe Simitian added: “The FCC’s action harms start-ups, small companies, and businesses generally, who rely on a level playing field to compete. It hampers development and investment in cutting-edge Internet technologies that the county relies upon.”
In a statement issued this morning, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) also vowed to fight the ruling.
“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai fulfilled his promise today to destroy the free and open internet, but tomorrow the battle commences. It’s clear that the chairman’s idea has been rejected in the court of public opinion with tens of millions of Americans weighing in. Now the issue will be judged in the courts. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and I will be leading an amicus brief for the anticipated litigation very soon.”
“The net neutrality rules currently in place have advanced competition and innovation and have created more startups and entrepreneurs,” she added. “Investment in the online ecosystem has thrived, with innovative new apps and more buildout of broadband. The rules have worked well and eliminating them hurts businesses, creators and consumers alike.”
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission is poised to vote this morning on a controversial plan to revoke net neutrality protections, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
In a last-ditch appeal Wednesday, 18 state attorneys general sent a letter imploring the FCC—helmed by GOP Chairman Ajit Pai—to delay the decision until the agency investigates claims that fake submissions undermined the public comment period.
Their plea apparently fell on deaf ears, and now the fate of a free and open internet hangs in the balance.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo this past week joined nearly 60 mayors throughout the U.S. by signing a letter demanding that the Trump administration protect net neutrality, warning that losing the protection would threaten education, innovation and economic growth.
Back in August, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for a resolution supporting net neutrality.
“Especially here in Silicon Valley, the internet is a driving force behind our economy,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said at the time. “It creates jobs, fosters innovation, and connects us to each other, even across the globe. An open internet is key to the high-tech world we’ve built, and it’s up to us to help protect it.”
The county will hold a presser this morning to make additional statements about why it opposes the FCC proposal coming up for consideration today.
A number of other Silicon Valley lawmakers have called on the FCC to treat internet access as a public utility rather than an amenity.
A large majority of Americans, including 3 out of 4 Republicans, oppose the government's plan to repeal its net neutrality rules for Internet providers. We must protect net neutrality. https://t.co/QW9XM8RsP9
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) December 13, 2017
“The internet was founded as a neutral platform that leveled the playing field for sending and receiving information,” Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) wrote on her website. She added that she would “continue fighting policies that go against this innovative spirit.”
If Pai’s push to rescind the Obama-era consumer protections translates to reality, internet service providers would be able to charge a fee to deliver content more quickly. Pai and other opponents of net neutrality argue that making ISPs richer works in the public’s interest by giving companies more money to spend on infrastructure upgrades.
But without a mechanism to enforce that kind of trickle-down benefit, there’s nothing to prevent those companies from skimming the extra profit for shareholders.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 7:30am Pacific Time. Live video of the debate is available here.