Federal Communications Commissioner and South Carolina native Mignon Clyburn said she believes reversing the current internet neutrality plan is unfair and voted against it.
“I’m afraid that the direction that we are about to head on December 14 will see only the persons with the largest wallets will be able to have the best access, the best service and the most priority,” Clyburn said.
The FCC voted 3-2 to overturn the 2015 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The decision classifies the internet as an information service and not a public utility.
“That provided for a free and open internet that ensured that no provider, no government, no ISP could block, throttle, or slow down our traffic,” she said in an interview with South Carolina Radio Network.
“I dissent,” she told the commission. ” I dissent from this spirally-spun, legally lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling destroying internet freedom order. Because I am among the millions outraged. Outraged because the FCC pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s consumers.”
“We may be left with no single authority with the power to protect consumers,” Clyburn said. “The agency that is supposed to protect you is abandoning you.”
By overturning the 2015 ruling, Clyburn says web sites and companies will be able to pay internet service providers for faster speeds to access their sites. Clyburn is concerned some sites may not be able to accessed at all.
“That will be the detriment, I believe, to consumers and small businesses who don’t have the economic wherewithal to buy these incredibly expensive packages that will give them priority,” she said. “What is about to happen on December 14, I’m afraid, is a reversal of all that–that will really give the nation’s largest telecommunications companies the ability to give preferential treatment to those who they deem fit.”
Those commissioners who voted in favor of the order say before the standard was established in 2015, there were no problems with data speeds by internet service providers.
Commissioner Michael O’Reilly called it “baseless fearmongering.”
“This decision will not break the internet,” he said when giving his opinion.
Commissioner Brendan Carr said it was “apocalyptic rhetoric.”
According to the agenda for the FCC meeting:
- The Commission will consider a Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order that will restore Internet Freedom by returning broadband Internet access service to its prior classification as an information service, and reinstate the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service. The item also will eliminate the Commission’s vague and expansive Internet Conduct Standard, along with the bright-line rules. Additionally, it will modify the transparency rule to promote additional transparency, while eliminating burdensome and unnecessary requirements.
“It is ignoring thousands of consumers’ complaints and comments that said the way the internet is structured right now that gives no preference to anyone, that will be a thing of the past,” she said.
Clyburn said the plan will thwart competition and create a monopoly infrastructure for internet access.
“Consumers will be more vulnerable as soon as the dust settles because they will be at the mercy of gatekeepers who will be able to charge a toll to those on-off ramps of the internet that has been empowering our communities,” she said.
It is especially frustrating, she said, after unveiling a plan last month to improve high-speed internet connectivity in rural South Carolina. Clyburn was in South Carolina as part of a discussion on the state’s six-county Promise Zone.
“Talking about how we can better enable opportunities and create a wider broadband footprint and that very footprint, I believe, is at risk of gatekeepers that would make the internet look like the rest of the media ecosystem and that in and of itself would be a shame.”
Clyburn is the daughter of South Carolina U.S. Rep. James Clyburn.