San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to see through misinformation from Internet service providers (ISPs) and protect the open Internet.

EFF's formal response to the ISPs' claims are part of the FCC's public comment period for its proposed new rules that would allow for so-called "Internet fast lanes" – a dangerous plan that would allow unfair Internet traffic discrimination and undermine net neutrality. The FCC has received over 1.7 million comments on the issue, with over 127,000 delivered through EFF's comment tool.

"The FCC is going down a dangerous path, risking future Internet expression and innovation, and the big ISPs are encouraging the commission every step of the way," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Will the FCC respond to the pleas of more than a million Internet users and do its part to protect net neutrality? Or will it open the door to a tiered Internet, with ISPs serving as gatekeepers for their subscribers?"

In comments submitted today, EFF reiterated that the FCC must reclassify broadband as a "common carrier" service, which would allow the commission to enforce rules like the ones that insure fair and equal telephone service. Some ISPs, including cable Internet provider Comcast, have argued against the reclassification, telling the FCC that a recent court decision gives the commission all it needs to protect the open Internet. But that claim is based on a complete misreading of the court's ruling.

"What the court actually said was that the current classification of the Internet would not allow the FCC to ban unreasonable discrimination of network traffic," said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. "The court gave the FCC a roadmap for protecting the open Internet, and it starts with reclassification, not preserving the status quo."

ISPs' comments to the FCC also fought against service-performance transparency, claiming detailed information about network traffic would confuse consumers instead of helping them—essentially arguing that consumers were too uninformed to know what was good for them. Another outrageous claim came from cell phone providers responding to calls from EFF and others to handle mobile Internet traffic without discrimination. The providers argued that there was no current problem in the mobile space, despite obvious examples like AT&T blocking the FaceTime app.

"The Internet is an unprecedented global platform for free expression, commerce, and communications of all kinds. We can't let a few powerful companies throttle it," said EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula. "The FCC must correct its course and protect our access to this invaluable resource."

For the full comments to the FCC:

For more on net neutrality:


Corynne McSherry
   Intellectual Property Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Mitch Stoltz
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Jeremy Gillula
   Staff Technologist
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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