Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Endorses Title II

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is going to have to overturn rocks to find support for his proposed rules that turn the Internet into a two-tiered system and destroy all hope of real Net Neutrality.

Moments ago, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Chairman Wheeler in which she expresses her concerns that Internet service providers could discriminate against content and urges the FCC to “follow the court’s guidance and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.”

“This unequivocal message from Nancy Pelosi shows the serious momentum for real Net Neutrality,” said Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron. “Chairman Wheeler can no longer claim that there's no political support for reclassifying broadband as a common carrier. The more politically perilous path is digging in and defending his unworkable proposal. As the Democratic leader rightfully points out, the courts have given the FCC a clear path forward to prevent slow lanes and discrimination: It's called Title II. And as millions and millions of Americans have been telling the FCC, that’s the only way to protect the Internet and ensure it continues to thrive.”

Rep. Pelosi joins an impressive roster of leaders — including President Obama — who have called on the FCC to protect real Net Neutrality. And with companies as big as Netflix signed on for Wednesday’s symbolic Internet Slowdown, the pushback is only going to grow.

Wheeler needs to consider the input of the president, congressional leadership, hundreds of companies and millions of Internet users.

And to Congresswoman Pelosi, well, we have only two things to say: Thank you and welcome to Team Internet.

The full text of the letter appears below:

September 8, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

Thank you for working to restore rules protecting net neutrality after the D.C. Circuit’s decision to eliminate a key provision in the 2010 Open Internet Rules. These rules need to be properly in place to protect consumers and innovators.

I remain concerned, however, that the Federal Communications Commission may act in a way that would permit broadband providers to discriminate against the content consumers and innovators create and enjoy. Innovators prefer bright-line rules and worry the proposed rules would force them into commercial arrangements that require payment of tolls in cash or equity to get their ideas on the Internet.

I oppose special Internet fast lanes, only open to those firms large enough to pay big money or fraught enough to give up big stakes in their company. Fortunately, the court’s decision gave the Commission a clear path forward to prohibit discrimination and paid prioritization. The law allows the Commission to protect consumers and innovators with strong, but tailored rules defending the open Internet from a wide variety of threats.

I believe the FCC should follow the court’s guidance and reclassify broadband as a Telecommunications Service under Title II of the Communications Act. Importantly, Title II designation also gives the FCC certainty to protect consumers from fraudulent billing practices and privacy infringements while maintaining the guarantee that Voice-over-Internet Protocol calls and other data will reach their destination without interference, as called for in the Network Compact. The law’s forbearance mechanism is an appropriate tool to refine modern rules and will prevent the FCC from overburdening broadband providers.

Over a million Americans directly contacted your agency during the initial round of comments, and millions more signed petitions. In fact, many Americans filed comments with your agency over the broadband connection on their mobile phone or tablet. This proves how important it is for the FCC to ensure all Americans are able to enjoy the same robust net neutrality protections on wireless that they should enjoy on a wired connection.

Thank you for your consideration of my views on this matter, which will have a global, and domestic, impact.

Best regards,

Nancy Pelosi

Democratic Leader

Original photo by Flickr user Shawn Calhoun