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Rosenworcel Raising Ruckus Over Net Neutrality

Newly recommissioned FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is ready for a fight over rolling back Title II, though now that she is in the minority it is clearly an uphill climb.

Rosenworcel joined with fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn on Capitol Hill Wednesday (Nov. 1) to rally the net neutrality troops given that Republican Chairman Ajit Pai is widely expected to circulate an order on reclassifying ISPs as non-common carrier information services later this month for a vote by the end of the year

The FCC voted to propose that reclassification last May, before Rosenworcel's return to the commission.

Invoking Martin Luther King's phrase "the fierce urgency of now," she said she was feeling some of that fierce urgency about net neutrality now. " I feel that there are things that urgently need attention, that urgently need a voice, that urgently need a ruckus," she said, and net neutrality was one of them.

Related: McDowell: FCC Must Preempt Patchwork of 'Net Regs'

Rosenworcel pointed out that it took a decade and three court decisions, but the 2015 Open Internet Order, which she helped approve, got it right and was now "legally viable and wildly popular"(except, to be fair, with Republicans and ISPs).

She said the Pai proposal tears at the foundations of net neutrality and hands ISPs the power to become "censors and gatekeepers for all that is online."

As an example of the kind of voices that could be silenced, she cited the #MeToo movement, where men and women posted their experiences of sexual assault, many for the first time.

This is the civil rights promise of our new digital square," she said. "Rolling back net neutrality will curb that square.  It will provide our broadband providers with the power to decide what voices we amplify, which sites we visit, what connections we make, and what communities we create. We can’t let that happen."

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.