WASHINGTON, DC, October 6, 2020 – On Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced an Oct. 27 vote to reaffirm the 2017 repeal of net neutrality. The vote is a response to Mozilla v. FCC, a 2019 court ruling that found the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service” and ignored critical legal duties to protect public safety, digital equity, and competition.

In February 2020, the FCC abruptly announced a short public comment period to address the ruling and the court-ordered remand, or do-over, of the net neutrality proceeding. OTI filed comments in this proceeding, but first responders were overwhelmed by the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and couldn’t meet Pai’s arbitrary deadline. The first responders—including the very firefighters that the Mozilla court admonished the FCC for ignoring in 2017—asked for more time. Inexplicably, the FCC refused to grant this reasonable request.

OTI is a litigant in Mozilla v. FCC and has consistently pressed the FCC to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality rules.  

The following statement can be attributed to Joshua Stager, senior counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“This is an October surprise that nobody wanted except for AT&T and Comcast lobbyists. A federal court ruled that the FCC was ‘unhinged from reality’ when it repealed net neutrality in 2017, and yesterday’s announcement shows that Chairman Pai’s perspective remains unhinged. His jovial announcement suggests he learned nothing from the court and has no intention of fixing his mistakes. The American people need internet freedom, not jokes about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

“There’s simply too much at stake during a pandemic that millions of people are suffering through without internet access. Instead of tackling this crisis, Pai appears to be dithering with yet another gift to the telecom industry. Moreover, the opaque process behind today’s announcement suggests Pai learned nothing from the court or the mess he created. If the FCC won’t clean up this mess, Congress should by immediately passing the Save the Net Act.”

The Open Technology Institute (OTI) works at the intersection of technology and policy to ensure that every community has equitable access to digital technology and its benefits. We promote universal access to communications technologies that are both open and secure, using a multidisciplinary approach that brings together advocates, researchers, organizers, and innovators. To learn more, please visit us online at www.newamerica.org/oti and on Twitter @OTI.