The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates everything from TV to Internet service providers in the United States, is finally ready to follow the pro-competitive, pro-consumer agenda announced by President Joe Biden. July executive order That announced that an array of U.S. companies has grown too large and needs to test their strengths.
It has taken more than nine months, but Biden has chosen the chair of the FCC and nominated someone to fill the long-zero fifth position for fifth commissioner. Jessica Rosenwersell, who has served as acting chair since January, will lead the agency as permanent chair; He was nominated for a new term, which would be his third. And Biden nominated Gigi Sohan, a former FCC employee and a prominent lawyer for the open and affordable Internet, to fill the agency’s last position.
Assuming it goes through confirmation, which is expected because Democrats control the Senate, the biggest change to see is that the FCC will eventually get the Democratic majority that would bring back Obama-era net neutrality rules, which has become a huge divisive issue. Between Democrats and Republicans.
“It is a lifelong honor to be nominated to serve as FCC Chair,” Rosenwersell said Said in a statement.
Obama’s FCC passed net neutrality in 2015 Best known As a rule, Internet service providers, or ISPs (for example, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T), treat all data traveling across their networks equally. Under these rules, these companies may not charge customers more when they visit a particular site or speed up or slow down their Internet, depending on where they go and the services they use. The term net neutrality was coined by Tim Woo, who, incidentally, is currently working as Biden’s advisor on technology and competition policy. Net neutrality Opponents believe The rule stifles innovation and discourages Internet service providers from investing in their networks.
To pass net neutrality, the FCC reclassifies broadband from an information service to a common carrier, such as a telephone service. This then gave the FCC more regulatory power over it. The reclassification also allows the FCC Create new privacy rules ISPs that required customers’ permission before collecting and sharing their data, such as their web browsing history.
When Trump took power, his FCC, chaired by Ajit Pai, began work quickly Cancel net neutrality And re-classifying broadband as an information service. Those ISP privacy protections never worked, and Internet service providers were able to continue to collect, sell, or share customer data – much to their dismay. Recent FTC report. While the net neutrality was not threatened by additional charges, panic attacks or blockades of others, the FCC has effectively transferred most of its control over broadband providers and services as they have become an increasingly essential part of American life.
Biden said in his executive order that he wanted the FCC to restore net neutrality. But it took him a surprisingly long time to nominate the commissioners that he needed to happen. Since Biden took office, the FCC has been at a standstill with two Republican commissioners (Nathan Simington, who was confirmed in the days of Trump’s presidency, and Brendon Carr) and two Democrats (Rosenversell and Geoffrey Starkes).
“The real problem is: we’ve already lost a year,” Harold Feld, senior vice president of Open Internet Advocacy Group Public Knowledge, told Ricod. Feld worked for Sohan when he was CEO of Public Knowledge, which he co-founded.
2-2 The FCC has done a lot in the last nine months to expand broadband Internet and set up programs to help low-income people afford it (including Son Bara, Last year Recode says That purchasing power is the biggest obstacle to closing the digital divide). The epidemic has made it clear that broadband internet access is no longer a luxury, it is an essential service. But there was no way to pass the stagnant FCC net neutrality. Democrats began to lose patience as a few months passed without any apparent action on naming a permanent chair or appointing a fifth commissioner. Sept. 22, 25 Democratic senators Wrote a letter Biden called for Rosenwarsell to be named permanent chairman “as soon as possible.”
Sen. Amy Cloboucher, one of the signatories, said in a statement to Recode that she strongly supports the two nominations, adding: “Strong leadership in the FCC is essential to meeting the connectivity goals of our 21st century economy. I am confident that both Rosenworcel and Sohn have the skills needed to break the digital divide and empower our nation for future generations. ”
Rep. Anna Eshu, who told Record in January that Rosenwarsell was her pick for the FCC chair, praised Biden’s selection as “historic”, noting that Rosenwersell was the first woman to serve as the FCC’s permanent chair and Sohan would be the first open LGBTQ.
“Rosenwarsell and Sohan are brilliant champions for innovation, public safety, national security, universal broadband, net neutrality and social justice,” Ashu said.
Assuming Biden goes through the nomination, the FCC will have three commissioners who are on record as staunch supporters of net neutrality, trying to bring it back to almost certainty. There’s Starkus Say it An “important issue” that the FCC “dropped the ball” when it was canceled. Rosenwarsell was FCC commissioner in 2015 when net neutrality was initially passed, and he voted in favor of it; He was against repealing it, Saying It “puts the agency on the wrong side of the public, the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law.” And Sohan was an adviser to Obama-era FCC chair Tom Wheeler when net neutrality was passed. He is constantly pushing for it to be restored, Saying in 2019 That it is “critical to the future of the Internet that net neutrality and important FCC oversight be restored.”
“The FCC can now come back to be champions for consumers,” Wheeler told the record. “Gigi Sohan is a proven and proven consumer champion; Together with Geoffrey Starkes, chair nominee Rosenversell has the opportunity to reverse Trump’s practices of the year and return the company to its consumer and competition responsibilities. “
But net neutrality will not happen immediately, even in the best of circumstances.
“It takes a long time to get an FCC order written,” Feld said. “It simply came to our notice then. Especially for something like this, where there are Going to be a lawsuit, And it’s going to be controversial. “
Net neutrality is not the only thing the FCC will likely bring back from the Obama era. The biden order also calls on the FCC to return the “broadband nutrition label” that clearly explains how much customers pay for their broadband internet services (including all those hidden fees) and the speed at which they get paid.
The FCC will probably take further steps on consumer protection and competition, Feld said. Biden’s order asked the FCC to inform broadband suppliers ‘agencies of their rates and number of subscribers, prohibit initial termination fees that hold customers back, and bar landlords from entering into contracts with cable and broadband companies that limit tenants’ choice. Feld hopes that these measures will reduce the cost of broadband. Although broadband rates vary across the country, on average in the United States, Provides more For the internet compared to other countries in the world. The FCC is in the process of opening up more radio frequencies or spectra 5G service, Improvement Its a faulty broadband map, and frees us from its damage RoboCall And text.
It remains to be seen whether the FCC has enough time to look at all of Biden’s initiatives – and now the permanent chair – through the House and Senate. His slow path to getting his FCC in place could probably waste limited time if the Democrats lose control of Congress the following year and lose the presidency in 2024. Still, Feld thinks the FCC will return to its traditionally low-profile role – “the technical and boring thing.”
“I say this as a final compliment: Jessica Rosenwersell is the most indomitable, potential choice for the FCC chair,” Feld said. “That’s exactly what you want.”