Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document Attachment


Download Options






June 27, 2014


The Honorable Bill Nelson

United States Senate

716 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Nelson:

Thank you for writing to express your concerns regarding the need to reinstate rules to

preserve an open Internet for all Americans. I share your sense of urgency on this matter. For

this reason, I moved with dispatch to initiate a proceeding to consider new open Internet rules to

replace those that were vacated by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Verizon case. As you

know, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("Notice") adopted by the Commission in May 2014

begins that process. Therein, we ask a number of questions about the rules we need to adopt, as

well as the appropriate legal foundation for such rules. Your letter touches on some of the most

important issues presented in the Notice, and I will ensure that it is included in the record of the

proceeding and considered as part of the Commission's review.

The Commission has struggled for over a decade with how best to protect and promote an

open Internet. While there has been bipartisan consensus, starting under the Bush

Administration with Chairman Powell, on the importance of an open Internet to economic

growth, investment, and innovation, we find ourselves today faced with the worst case scenario:

we have no Open Internet rules in place to stop broadband providers from limiting Internet

openness. The status quo is unacceptable. The Commission has already found, and the court has

agreed, that broadband providers have economic incentives and technological tools to engage in

behavior that can limit Internet openness and harm consumers and competition. As such, the

Commission must craft meaningful rules to protect the open Internet, and it must do so promptly.

I can assure you that I will utilize the best tools available to me to ensure the Commission adopts

effective and resilient open Internet rules. Unless and until the Commission adopts new rules,

broadband providers will be free to block, degrade, or otherwise disadvantage innovative

services on the Internet without threat of sanction by the FCC.

With respect to the legal foundation of the rules, I believe that the Section 706 framework

set forth by the court provides us with the tools we need to adopt and implement robust and

enforceable Open Internet rules. Nevertheless, the Commission is also seriously considering

moving forward to adopt rules using Title II of the Communications Act as the foundation for

our legal authority. The Notice seeks comment on the benefits of both Section 706 and Title II,

including the benefits of one approach over the other, to ensure the Internet remains an open

platform for innovation and expression.


Page 2-The Honorable Bill Nelson

With respect to the substance of the rules, the proposals and questions in the Notice are

designed to elicit a record that will give us a foundation to adopt strong, enforceable rules to

protect the open Internet and prevent broadband providers from harming consumers or

competition. I am especially sensitive to your concerns about paid prioritization arrangements,

and the potential such arrangements have for creating an Internet "haves" and "have nots." Let

me be crystal clear: there must only be one Internet. It must be fast, robust and open for

everyone. The Notice addresses this issue head-on, even asking if paid prioritization should be

banned outright. It also proposes clear rules of the road and aggressive enforcement to prevent

unfair treatment of consumers, edge providers and innovators. Small companies and startups

must be able to reach consumers with their innovative products and services, and they must be

protected against harmful conduct by broadband providers.

The Notice also includes a number of proposals designed to empower consumers and

small businesses who may find themselves subject to harmful behavior by a broadband provider.

For example, the Court of Appeals did uphold our existing transparency rule, and the Notice

proposes to strengthen that rule to require that networks disclose any practices that could change

a consumer's or a content provider's relationship with the network. The Notice proposes the

creation of an ombudsperson to serve as a watchdog and advocate for start-ups, small businesses

and consumers. And the Notice seeks comment on how to ensure that all parties, and especially

small businesses and start-ups, have effective access to the Commission's dispute resolution and

enforcement processes.

This Notice is the first step in the process, and I look forward to comments from all

interested stakeholders, including members of the general public, as we develop a fulsome record

on the many questions raised in the Notice. To that end, in an effort to maximize public

participation in this proceeding, we have established an Open Internet email address - to ensure that Americans who may not otherwise have the opportunity

to participate in an FCC proceeding can make their voices heard. In addition, to ensure sufficient

opportunity for broad public comment, we have provided a lengthy comment and reply period

through September 10, 2014, that will allow everyone an opportunity to participate.

Again, I appreciate your deep interest in this matter and look forward to continued

engagement with you as the proceeding moves forward.

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, , or as plain text.


You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.