Over 50 groups lobby Biden to fill vacant FCC seat
A coalition of 57 public interest groups has pressed US President Joe Biden to fill a vacant Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seat that has remained vacant since January, arguing the move is necessary to break a political deadlock and advance key issues.
The five-member committee has been understaffed since the departure of former president Ajit Pai on January 20. The remaining four members, led by interim president Jessica Rosenworcel, are evenly divided along political lines with two Democrats and two Republicans.
In a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the groups said leaving the agency “below full capacity … is inconsistent with the goal of providing open, affordable and reliable broadband. to every household “.
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“Failure to appoint a fifth commissioner leaves the FCC less than fully operational and limits its ability to most effectively” address a series of key issues. He specifically highlighted the need for action to reform the Lifeline broadband subsidy program, provide guidance for the deployment of new broadband infrastructure and reclassify broadband internet as a Title II service.
“If we are to achieve the goal of having a country where everyone, regardless of their address or the size of their bank account, has affordable high-speed internet access, we need a full commission as soon as possible. possible, ”they wrote.
Attempts to reach the White House by phone for comment were unsuccessful.
The letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy and Technology, Communications Workers of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Public Knowledge, among others.
Fight for net neutrality
Mozilla was also among the signatories, although this is perhaps not surprising given the mention of Title II. In 2015, the FCC classified operators as “public carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act, allowing the agency to enforce net neutrality protections that prevented blocking, throttling, and termination. paid prioritization. These rules were then revoked in December 2017, the operators being reinstated in the classification of information service providers in Title I.
In January 2018, Mozilla filed a lawsuit against the FCC seeking to reinstate the rules. However, that effort ultimately failed, with an appeals court largely upholding the FCC’s repeal order in October 2019.
Earlier this year, Mozilla in a Blog welcomed Rosenworcel’s appointment as interim president as “a further opportunity to establish net neutrality rules at federal level in the near future”.
Rosenworcel opposed the 2017 repeal order and in May says Marketplace that while a congressional net neutrality solution would be “more robust”, she believed “the agency can move here as well.”