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US ISPs say the FCC should not investigate prices

by on10 November 2023

We have lobbied enough politicans so we can discriminate if we like

US Internet service providers and their lobby groups have told the FCC that their pricing structures should not be investigated if there are complaints that they are discriminating against customers on the basis of income level, race, ethnicity, colour, religion, or national origin.

ISPs want the Federal Communications Commission to drop the plan's proposal to require that prices charged to consumers be non-discriminatory. 

In 2021, Congress required the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules "preventing digital discrimination of access based on income level, race, ethnicity, colour, religion, or national origin" within two years.

It should have been fairly straight forward, we would have thought. You don't charge people more for their broadband if the are poor or black, but apparently that is got the ISPs cross -- we guess they have been doing this. 

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last month released her draft plan to comply with the congressional mandate and scheduled a 15 November 15 commission vote on adopting final rules.

The plan is likely to pass in a party-line vote as Rosenworcel has a 3-2 Democratic majority. Next week's meeting could be contentious according to Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Carr described Rosenworcel's proposal as "President Biden's plan to give the administrative state effective control of all Internet services and infrastructure in the US."

He objects to the Rosenworcel plan's statement that the FCC rules may apply to entities that are not broadband providers, such as landlords, if they "impede equal access to broadband Internet access service."

Consumer advocates support the proposal but say the planned system for handling complaints, ISP responses, and investigations is not transparent enough, reducing the system's potential to act as a deterrent.

Consumer advocates also say Internet users who have already been harmed by discrimination may not get any relief because the proposed rules do not apply retroactively.

ISPs including Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Verizon have held a flurry of meetings with FCC officials and commissioners in which they argued that the rules are too broad.

Last modified on 10 November 2023
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