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Congress Urged to Overturn Last Month’s FCC Decision Ending Net Neutrality


January 27, 2018
Saturday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - A resolution asking the U.S. Congress to overturn last month’s controversial decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ending the requirement that internet providers practice net neutrality has been presented in the Alaska legislature. The FCC’s decision reversed an earlier decision that prevented internet providers from treating customers differently depending on how they use the internet.

On December 14, 2017, by a vote of 3-2, the FCC dismantled the regulations that prohibited internet service providers from charging different rates for certain content or from slowing down or blocking websites.

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“Millions of Americans spoke out in support of equality and fairness when they participated in the FCC’s public process regarding net neutrality. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s version of the FCC gave greater weight to the wishes of the big internet and media conglomerates than individual Americans and Alaskans,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “I am hopeful that Congress can find the will to reverse this ill-advised decision and stand up for regular people. If they don’t, then the big corporations will continue to scheme ways to make money at the expense of individual freedoms and your ability to use the internet how you see fit.”

Net neutrality protects an individual’s ability to access and transmit information on the internet by requiring internet service providers to treat all websites equally. Last month’s FCC decision to end net neutrality allows providers to impose additional charges for access to certain websites or to slow down or even block access to websites.

The public process the FCC used to examine net neutrality has come under scrutiny because of the 2 million public comments that were linked to stolen identities and nearly 500,000 comments that were generated from Russian email addresses. 

“The process is fundamentally flawed when identity thieves can influence regulatory decisions to the detriment of the 80 percent of Americans who support the concepts of fairness and equality inherent in the practice of net neutrality,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “I have faith that we can reverse this decision if enough of us, including my colleagues in the Alaska Legislature, stand up and demand that Congress act in the best interests of the people.”

The issue of net neutrality is especially important in Alaska because the state’s size and isolation results in Alaskans relying heavily on the internet to stay connected and to participate in the ever-growing online world economy. Many communities struggle with reliable and affordable internet access, which could be exacerbated if the FCC’s decision to revoke net neutrality is allowed to stand. 

“Congress has the ability to nullify this shortsighted decision. The question is will they? I am hopeful that they will if they listen to the millions of individuals and businesses who rely on a free and open internet. I put forward this resolution because the Alaska Legislature should join this effort to protect the free flow of information that Alaskans expect and demand,” said Rep. Kawasaki. 

House Joint Resolution 31 was formally introduced Friday by Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks. The resolution was referred to the House State Affairs Committee.

Earlier in the week Alaska Senate Democrats introduced measures to restore net neutrality. On Wednesday, Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced SJR 12, urging Congress to exercise its authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to end net neutrality.  Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Bill 160, requiring net neutrality for Alaska's internet service providers.

"The protections net neutrality provided Americans were simply extinguished," said Sen. Wielechowski. "With their vote, the FCC is knowingly allowing internet service providers to charge customers higher rates to access certain websites, download music, watch videos, or to slow down or block sites altogether. This decision will negatively impact individual consumers, small businesses, startup companies, and entrepreneurs that rely upon a free and open internet."
During the public process, the FCC received 22 million comments. Of those, up to two million were linked to stolen identities; half a million appear to have been generated from Russian email addresses; 94% were posted multiple times; 57% came from duplicate or temporary addresses; there were nine instances that 75,000 same or similar comments posted at the exact same second; and the top seven comments made up 38% of the submissions.
SJR 12 calls on Congress to enact a joint resolution of disapproval within 60 legislative days of the FCC's final decision. A simple majority vote of each house in Congress would reinstate net neutrality. 
Under SB 160, internet service providers may not block content or services, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic, or interfere with the end user's access to the internet. It would allow preferential bandwidth speeds for distance learning and telemedicine to ensure rural Alaskans have access to necessary services.
"If Congress won't protect the consumers of Alaska, we in the legislature must," said Sen. Begich. "Access to information is vital to Alaskans and shouldn't be endangered, especially in rural areas of the state."
Six states have introduced legislation to restore net neutrality, and 21 states have filed legal action to block the FCC's decision.


On the Web:

House Joint Resolution 31

SJR 12


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Rep. Scott Kawasaki

Alaska Senate Democrats



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