PROVIDENCE, RI – With the Trump Administration gearing up to repeal net neutrality next week, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is urging the Administration to keep the Internet open, free, and with equal access for all. Today, Senator Reed held an event at the Providence Public Library with librarians and leading educators to discuss how repealing net neutrality could negatively impact consumers, businesses, and democracy and put people who can’t pay for preferential treatment online at a disadvantage.
A critical Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on whether or not to overturn net neutrality rules is expected to occur at the commission’s regularly-scheduled monthly meeting next Thursday, December 14. Earlier this week, Reed and 27 Senate colleagues wrote a letter to the FCC urging the commission to delay the vote until an investigation is completed into reports that bots impersonating Americans filed hundreds of thousands of phony comments to the FCC during the net neutrality policy making process, thus distorting the public record.
Reed noted at today’s event that the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal net neutrality would undo protections requiring all Internet traffic to be treated equally by Internet service providers. He also noted that the Administration’s plan will undermine the principles of a free and open Internet and be an unprecedented giveaway to big broadband providers, benefitting a few telecommunications giants at the expense of their customers who use the Internet every day.
“This is an issue that affects everyone,” said Senator Reed. “Net neutrality levels the playing field by allowing everyone to have equal access to the Internet and making sure that service providers treat everyone fairly and equally. It prevents Internet giants from placing tolls on the information superhighway. The Trump Administration’s plans to end net neutrality would be a devastating mistake that would likely have harmful consequences for consumers and businesses and could lead to a loss of jobs and small businesses across the nation and here in Rhode Island. I urge the Administration to keep existing net neutrality rules in place and I pledge to work on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues to pass laws that recognize net neutrality and preserve equal Internet access for all.”
“The repeal of net neutrality does not promote competition. It allows telecommunications conglomerates to filter and funnel Internet access for profit,” said Dr. Paolo Prado, Associate Professor of Communication at Roger Williams University. “This action by the FCC would be disingenuous and an affront to the first amendment. The 21st century press distributes online, and any federal regulation or deregulation that limits access to the press does so in defiance of our first amendment rights.”
“I can’t think of a better place than a public library to have a conversation like this,” said Providence Public Library Executive Director Jack Martin. “Here at the Providence Public Library, we have students, families, children, and senior citizens camped outside on our doorstep with their laptops and their phones in the air, trying to get a signal. Taking away net neutrality is like taking away our freedom to read.”
The American Library Association has voiced its strong opposition to the proposed order on net neutrality and the negative impact it will have on those who use the Internet, stating: “Libraries, our patrons and America’s communities will be at risk if the FCC repeals all protections contained in its 2015 Open Internet Order with no plans to replace with any enforceable rules. We strenuously disagree with the FCC’s actions and will continue to advocate for essential net neutrality protections.”
Today’s event was streamed live on Senator Reed’s Facebook page and can be viewed here.