Dem FCC commissioner: Net neutrality repeal shows 'contempt' for citizens who speak up

A Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in a dissenting opinion, published Thursday ahead of a contentious FCC vote, that repealing net neutrality regulations shows "contempt" for citizens who spoke up against it.

In the dissenting opinion, posted on Twitter by Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel — a Democrat who is against repealing net neutrality — she referred to net neutrality as "internet freedom."

"I support that freedom. I dissent from this rash decision to roll back net neutrality rules. I dissent from the corrupt process that has brought us to this point," she wrote. "And I dissent from the contempt this agency has shown our citizens in pursuing this path today."

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The FCC is expected to vote Thursday along party lines to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to scrap the Obama-era rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

Rosenworcel said in repealing net neutrality, the FCC would be on the wrong side of "history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public."

"The future of the internet is the future of everything. That is because there is nothing in our commercial, social, and civic lives that has been untouched by its influence or unmoved by its power," she wrote. "And here in the United States our internet economy is the envy of the world. This is because it rests on a foundation of openness."

She said that openness is "revolutionary" and it's important it is sustained. The existing net neutrality policies, she said, are wildly popular.

"But today we wipe away this work, destroy this progress, and burn down time-tested values that have made our Internet economy the envy of the world," she wrote.

She wrote the decision would not be good for consumers, businesses or anyone who "connects and creates online."

"Moreover, it is not good for American leadership on the global stage of our new and complex digital world," she wrote.

She noted she isn't alone in her concerns.

"Everyone from the creator of the world wide web to religious leaders to governors and mayors of big cities and small towns to musicians to actors and actresses to entrepreneurs and academics and activists has registered their upset and anger," she wrote.

"They are reeling at how this agency could make this kind of mistake. They are wondering how it could be so tone deaf. And they are justifiably concerned that just a few unelected officials could make such vast and far-reaching decisions about the future of the internet," she wrote in her opinion.

"The public," she said, "has been making noise, speaking up, and raising a ruckus." There have been nearly 24 million comments filed in the proceeding, she wrote.

As many as 2 million net neutrality comments — many of which were negative — that were filed to the FCC were fake, according to the New York Attorney General’s office. Several attorneys general and Democrats urged an investigation into the comments ahead of the vote.

"Finally, I worry that this decision and the process that brought us to this point is ugly. It’s ugly in the cavalier disregard this agency has demonstrated to the public, the contempt it has shown for citizens who speak up, and the disdain it has for popular opinion," Rosenworcel wrote.

"Unlike its predecessors this FCC has not held a single public hearing on net neutrality. There is no shortage of people who believe Washington is not listening to their concerns, their fears, and their desires. Add this agency to the list."

She urged people to "persist."

"Let’s fight. Let’s not stop here or now. It’s too important. The future depends on it," she wrote.

The FCC's current action on net neutrality has provoked a massive uproar among both tech giants and internet users.

A poll, released this week, showed 83 percent of voters support keeping the FCC rules in place.

Dozens of congressional Democrats — and at least one Republican — have urged Pai to cancel Thursday’s vote, but the chairman has vowed to move forward with the plan.

If the proposal is approved by the commission, it will almost certainly face a legal challenge from consumer groups.