Democratic FCC Commissioner sides with keeping net neutrality rules

Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn testifies before a Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the two Democrats on the Federal Communications Commission, Mignon Clyburn, on Wednesday threw her support behind 2015 net neutrality rules, arguing that a proposal by the FCC chairman to scrap them would hurt consumers, her office said on Wednesday.

“The commissioner continues to believe that the 2015 rules adopted by the FCC are the best way to protect consumers and small businesses while promoting innovation,” said a fact sheet prepared by Clyburn’s office.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said the agency will vote next month on a plan to rescind net neutrality rules that treated internet service providers like public utilities. Defenders of the Obama-era rules said they barred broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

The 210-page formal proposal, titled Proposal to Restore Internet Freedom, was posted on the FCC website on Wednesday.

Clyburn joins fellow Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel in opposing Pai’s plans to scrap the landmark rules, moving to give broadband service providers sweeping power over what content consumers can access.

With three Republican and two Democratic commissioners, the FCC is all but certain to approve the repeal. Republican President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to net neutrality in 2014 before the regulations were even implemented, calling it a “power grab” by then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Clyburn said in the fact sheet that Pai’s proposal “eliminates all prohibitions against blocking and throttling (slowing down) applications by broadband providers, and enables them to engage in paid prioritization and unreasonable discrimination at the point of interconnection.

“It ignores thousands of consumer complaints and millions of individual comments that ask the FCC to save net neutrality and uphold the principles that all traffic should be created equal,” the statement added.

Reporting by Chris Sanders and Diane Bartz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis