Franken Asks FCC's Pai to Preserve Open Internet Order

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is calling on new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to preserve, protect and defend the FCC's Open Internet order.

That is highly unlikely given Pai's opposition to the order and promise to revisit it, but that didn't stop the senator from trying.

In a letter to the new chairman, Franken said: “I have no doubt that you recognize the significance of your new role, but your stated opposition to strong net neutrality rules raises serious concerns about your commitment to honoring the First Amendment. Allowing giant corporations to pick and choose the content available to everyday Americans would threaten the basic principles of our democracy. I urge you to protect freedom of speech by maintaining and enforcing the Open Internet Order.

"As you enter your new role as Chairman of the FCC, I urge you to respect the political process and the voices that made themselves so abundantly clear three years ago. Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time, and I will fight to protect it every step of the way."

President Donald Trump is on the record as opposing the Obama Administration's approach to Open Internet rules, so there is argument that Pai would be respecting that part of the political process given that the President appointed him chairman. And Pai has made no secret of his opposition to Chairman Tom Wheeler's decision to reclassify ISPs as common carriers subject to Title II regulations.

While the FCC's Wireless Bureau signaled in an advisory only weeks before Republicans took over that zero rating plans from AT&T and Verizon violated the Open Internet rules, Pai has countered that "for any unilateral action taken by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau at the Chairman’s direction in the next 49 days can quickly be undone by that same bureau after January 20, 2017."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.