The lone Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) joined with activists on Capitol Hill Monday to commemorate the anniversary of the agency's landmark net neutrality rules and vowed to fight to defend them.
“Now it is time for us to once again roll up our sleeves and fight for the protections embodied in the Open Internet Order, that are designed to ensure that the internet remains an open platform, that enables free speech, freedom of expression and the ability for innovation to flourish,” said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, speaking alongside representatives from civil rights groups and advocates of net neutrality.
“For me it can be summed up in this way: How do we ensure that one of most inclusive, enabling, empowering platforms of our time continues to be one where our applications, products, ideas and diverse points of view have the exact same chance of being seen and heard by everyone, regardless of our class, race, economic status or where we live?” Clyburn added.
But Ajit Pai, the new Republican FCC chairman, has already begun chipping away at the rules in the month since he took over the agency.
He has suspended an investigation into so-called zero-rating data plans that critics say violate net neutrality principles and pushed through a measure that exempted smaller internet service providers from certain reporting requirements under the rule.
On Friday, he announced that he would be staying a portion of privacy rules enacted last October under the authority the FCC gained by reclassifying internet providers to treat them more like public utilities.
The provision he will block from going into effect requires providers to take “reasonable” steps to protect stored consumer data.
Pai said he would be using his authority as chairman to unilaterally stay the provision until the commission votes on it.
Clyburn, the lone Democratic commissioner, has not said whether she will sit out a vote and deny Pai a quorum, but on Monday she again blasted his move, saying the privacy rules “must be protected.”
“This commissioner will not go along with any effort that would rescind the promises we made to the American people to protect and serve them in the digital age,” she said.
There are currently only three commissioners on the FCC board: Pai, Clyburn and Republican Michael O'Reilly.