December 13, 2017

Senator Hassan Speaks Out Ahead of FCC’s Planned Vote Tomorrow to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules

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Click here for footage of Senator Hassan’s floor speech.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan spoke today on the Senate floor against the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission’s planned vote tomorrow to dismantle net neutrality rules. This reckless decision would hurt consumers, entrepreneurs, and innovative small businesses by ending equal access to online content.

Senator Hassan also called attention to reports that bots filed hundreds of thousands of comments to the FCC during the net neutrality policymaking process, distorting the public record on this issue. Last week, Senator Hassan led 27 of her colleagues in calling on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the planned vote to roll back net neutrality rules until an investigation is conducted.

Key Points:

 

  • Under the plan from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the control of the internet experience will be taken from the consumer in Keene or the small business owner in Nashua – and handed over to their internet service providers. Undoing net neutrality will give broadband providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, applications, and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, or favoring certain services while charging you more to access others.

 

  • In New Hampshire, innovative small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating good jobs and stimulating economic growth. But undoing net neutrality could limit the ability of that next great business to get off of the ground. A Manchester small business owner recently wrote to my staff to say, and this is the quote, “I believe that Net Neutrality should stay in effect as it allows every business to be on the same footing…” and that under this proposal, again a quote, “If you are leveraging the internet to boost your business, it will affect it dramatically.”

 

  • And in response to Chairman Pai’s proposal, millions have also written to the FCC to state their position on this issue. But, it seems that this process has been corrupted – with internet bots placing hundreds of thousands of comments in favor of repealing net neutrality, and roughly 400,000 of those comments  may have, it seems, originated from Russian email addresses… Last week, I – along with 27 of my colleagues – wrote to Chairman Pai calling for a delay in this vote until we have a clear understanding of what happened during the policymaking process.

 

  • Mr. President, undoing net neutrality will fundamentally change the concept of a free and open internet that so many Granite Staters and Americans have come to know and have benefitted from. And approving this plan would be a reckless decision. I am going to continue fighting for priorities that put consumers first, that help small businesses innovate and thrive, and that advance an open and free internet.

 

Click here for video or see below for the full remarks:

Thank you Mr. President.

I rise today to join my colleagues to oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s planned vote tomorrow to dismantle net neutrality rules.

As this proposal has been considered, I have been troubled by the impact that this decision will have on consumers and small businesses, as well as by the process itself – which has been seriously flawed with regard to gaining public input on this critical issue.

Mr. President, access to a free and open internet is at the forefront of the lives of nearly every American.

Consumers, entrepreneurs, innovative small businesses – and in turn our nation’s economy – have all benefited from equal access to content on the internet, no matter the internet service provider.

And an open internet has been essential to civic engagement, social and economic mobility, and the fight to make progress for our underrepresented populations, just like what we saw with the National Women’s March at the beginning of this year – which was largely organized through online activism.

An open internet is critical to our economy and our democracy. And net neutrality has guaranteed this equal access.

But tomorrow’s vote by the FCC would change all of that.

Under the plan from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the control of the internet experience will be taken from the consumer in Keene or the small business owner in Nashua – and handed over to their internet service providers.

Undoing net neutrality will give broadband providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, applications, and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, or favoring certain services while charging you more to access others.

This is particularly disturbing at a time when many consumers only have, at most, one or two options for broadband providers, leaving those who don’t like the steps their provider is taking without a choice to change.

Additionally, Mr. President, dismantling net neutrality rules will hurt small businesses and stifle innovation.

Under these rules, Internet Service Providers would be allowed to force businesses to “pay-to-play” online.

While larger, well-established companies would likely be able to compete, startups and entrepreneurs across the nation might not be able to afford such fees, causing instability and limiting the reach of their new businesses.

In New Hampshire, innovative small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating good jobs and stimulating economic growth. But undoing net neutrality could limit the ability of that next great business to get off of the ground.

A Manchester small business owner recently wrote to my staff to say, and this is the quote, “I believe that Net Neutrality should stay in effect as it allows every business to be on the same footing…” and that under this proposal, again a quote, “If you are leveraging the internet to boost your business, it will affect it dramatically.”

That business owner is not alone.

Just today, several members of the rural and agricultural business community in New England – including Stoneyfield from Londonderry, New Hampshire – wrote to Chairman Pai to say “Repealing net neutrality will have a crippling effect on rural economies, further restricting access to the internet for rural businesses at a point in time where we need to expand and speed this access instead.”

And hundreds of people have called into my office to voice their support for net neutrality.

Mr. President, people across the nation recognize that the plan proposed by the Republican led FCC will truly impact their life.

And in response to Chairman Pai’s proposal, millions have also written to the FCC to state their position on this issue. But, it seems that this process has been corrupted – with internet bots placing hundreds of thousands of comments in favor of repealing net neutrality, and roughly 400,000 of those comments  may have, it seems, originated from Russian email addresses.

Additionally, 50,000 consumer service complaints have been excluded from public record, according to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Mr. President, on any FCC decision, public input is vital. And on this decision that impacts every single American, it is unacceptable that the public’s opinion may have been distorted by fraudulent comments and additional anomalies.

Last week, I – along with 27 of my colleagues – wrote to Chairman Pai calling for a delay in this vote until we have a clear understanding of what happened during the policymaking process. 

Unfortunately, Chairman Pai has continued rushing toward this vote. And as has been all-too common with the Trump Administration, the Republican-led FCC is favoring the priorities and voices of corporate special interests, rather than listening to hard-working Americans who want to keep net neutrality.

The Commission has failed to address the concerns that these comments are artificially generated, has not held one public hearing on net neutrality, and is moving forward at an alarming pace without regard for what eliminating these rules would mean for our economy and consumers.

Mr. President, undoing net neutrality will fundamentally change the concept of a free and open internet that so many Granite Staters and Americans have come to know and have benefitted from. And approving this plan would be a reckless decision.

I am going to continue fighting for priorities that put consumers first, that help small businesses innovate and thrive, and that advance an open and free internet.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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