One day after taking to the Senate floor to demand a vote on reinstating net neutrality protections, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today confronted the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about its repeal of rules to protect a free and open internet for all Americans.
“Last year, more than 20 million Americans wrote asking you to protect a free and open internet,” Cantwell said. “Instead, net neutrality protections for consumers were repealed.”
In her remarks, Cantwell criticized the FCC for leaving consumers at the mercy of big cable companies and highlighted examples of these companies already undermining internet protections for Americans.
“Just last week, Comcast was ordered to pay $9.1 million in fines for deceptive practices that affected 50,000 Washingtonians,” Cantwell said. “And since the repeal of net neutrality, some wireless and broadband companies already appear to be testing ways to undermine the free and open internet. Wireless carriers have been accused of potentially throttling subscribers to Netflix and YouTube, CenturyLink temporarily blocked access to the internet in Utah to force consumers to watch ads, [and] Sprint allegedly interfered with competitive Skype services using wireless networks.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel brought up the importance of an open internet and referenced her recent trip to Seattle, where she joined Cantwell at Harborview Hospital to learn more about innovations in telemedicine and the role of net neutrality in preserving access to health care.
“No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to modern communications to have a fair shot at 21st-century success,” Rosenworcel said. “And I saw this just over a month ago in Washington state, where with the Ranking Member of this Committee, I met a fisherman who suffered a stroke. He was from Shaw Island, population 165… But he was diagnosed remotely and airlifted to a hospital for surgery. And telemedicine made it possible.”
At the hearing, Cantwell also highlighted other instances of the FCC putting corporate interests ahead of everyday Americans. She brought up ongoing concerns that FCC auctions of airwaves could set weather forecasting capabilities back decades, putting American lives at risk and damaging national security and the economy.
“When scientists and weather experts from outside and inside the Trump administration warned that actions on spectrum could harm forecasting, their concerns were ignored,” Cantwell continued. “I also want to make sure that we are clear today: we are not going to allow this vital information to be jeopardized in the future.”