FCC forced to ask for public feedback on net neutrality repeal

Daniel Cooper
Senior Editor
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images

Earlier this week, the FCC successfully defeated Mozilla's attempt to undo the commission's repeal of net neutrality. But, while siding with the body, judges have asked the FCC to determine if repealing the law to prevent a multi-speed internet has had any negative consequences. That includes checking if net neutrality repeal has harmed public safety, reduced spending in infrastructure or hampered the Lifeline program.

Consequently, the FCC will launch a period where the public and interested parties can share their views on the process. This is not an opportunity to re-litigate net neutrality repeal, but it is an opportunity to examine if the FCC acted properly and with regard to its broader obligations. The court, for instance, has directed the body to see if repeal has harmed public safety and reduced investment in critical infrastructure.

That may include references to the incident in which Verizon, Engadget's parent company, throttled the data plan of a vehicle owned by the Santa Clara fire service. According to Chief Anthony Bowden in a 2018 lawsuit, Verizon's throttling of the vehicle's plan hampered efforts to fight wildfires. Verizon said that in that instance, the throttling was the result of a mistake, and that its policy is to not throttle emergency teams.

And a third-party study which claimed that, regardless of traffic, major ISPs throttle video traffic at all times of the day. Researchers from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Northeastern University found that, in one instance, a carrier throttled Netflix and YouTube 70 and 74 percent of the time, respectively.

The Register claims that the FCC is behaving churlishly, burying its request for comment in a wordy title that does not reflect its true intentions. But FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel published a statement asking people to "make some noise" and write in. Rosenworcel says that the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality was on the "wrong side of history" and that the public should demand an "open internet."

Those wishing to make a comment can do so on the FCC's Electronic Filing System, entering 17-108 (Restoring Internet Freedom) in the proceedings box. The deadline for comments is March 30th.