Time is of the essence, according to public interest advocates. "The longer these issues are delayed, the more difficult it will be for consumers to trust that they can reach the content and services of their choice," Chris Lewis, vice president at DC-based digital rights group Public Knowledge, said in a statement.The FCC's Oct. 27 open meeting will be the last official rule-making session for the five-member agency before the Nov. 8 presidential election, which will also determine control of Congress. Regardless of who wins, the outcome of the election could jeopardize the FCC's ability to make progress on consumer issues, because it's often politically difficult to advance major policy initiatives during the "lame-duck" period before a new president and Congress are sworn in."Each of these issues has been discussed by policymakers for years, if not decades," the coalition wrote in the letter, which was signed by 76 groups including Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and New America's Open Technology Institute. "Further delay would put internet users' privacy in jeopardy and undermine longstanding efforts to make internet, cable and satellite services more affordable and open."
Time is of the essence, according to public interest advocates.
Senate Republicans have shown little intention of reconfirming Rosenworcel for another five-year FCC term, regardless of how she votes on set-top box reform, despite the fact that her reconfirmation was part of the deal with the GOP that led to the approval of Republican FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly. Instead, Republicans appear to want to run out the clock on her tenure at the FCC, or at a minimum, hold her vote hostage in order to prevent Wheeler's set-top box reform plan from succeeding."The FCC should ignore lobbyist calls to protect their bottom lines, as they seek to shut down competition and profit from our private lives," Matt Wood, policy directory at DC-based public interest group Free Press, told Motherboard. "The commissioners must vote instead to restore the privacy rights of the most vulnerable people, and to improve the diversity of affordable video distribution options for viewers and content creators alike."Public interest groups say that FCC action on zero-rating is particularly important as companies like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile move ahead with mobile plans that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, favoring those offerings over rival services. Silicon Valley titan Facebook reportedly wants to partner with wireless carriers to offer US consumers access to its controversial "Free Basics" mobile service, in which users gain free access to a limited number of websites selected by social networking giant.Facebook and other zero-rating advocates argue that the practice could help boost broadband adoption, but critics say such plans risk creating a "bastardized version of the internet" that disproportionately affects lower-income users who are more likely to use mobile devices to connect to the internet, and less willing to incur larger monthly fees by exceeding data limits. Open internet advocates say that because zero-rating plans undermine net neutrality, the FCC should send a strong signal of disapproval against such schemes.A FCC spokesperson told Motherboard that the agency had received and was reviewing the coalition's letter.
These issues have been discussed by policymakers for years, if not decades.