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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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July 15, 2014

AG MADIGAN & AG SCHNEIDERMAN URGE FCC TO STRENGTHEN
PROTECTIONS FOR NET NEUTRALITY

Chicago—Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to strengthen rules to preserve “net neutrality.” In comments submitted to the FCC and a letter to Chairman Tom Wheeler , Madigan and Schneiderman argue that the FCC must ensure the continued “dynamism of the internet” by protecting its low barriers to entry and equal treatment for all content providers, which can only be upheld through the principles of an open internet, or net neutrality.

“The Internet was built upon a simple but powerful concept that ensured equal access to everyone,” Madigan said. “That standard must be maintained to ensure that the Internet continues to be a driver of innovation and economic opportunity for businesses and an open marketplace for consumers.”

“Preserving one set of rules for everyone includes protecting the right of every business or organization looking to access customers through the web to do so in a competitive manner. It also includes ensuring everyone has free and open access to the internet and the essential services it provides,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “With our letter and comments to the FCC, we are standing up for the new makers, thinkers and entrepreneurs who seek to better the online marketplace, who must be allowed to continue to innovate on the same terms as established businesses.”

In their letter and comments, the attorneys general emphasized the role that net neutrality and non-discrimination principles play in furthering vigorous competition and innovation on the web, enabling startup businesses an equal platform to provide new content to consumers at the same speed as established providers. However, the attorneys general noted, without net neutrality, internet service providers could charge content providers for priority treatment, or access to an internet “fast lane.”

“The Internet is the public square of the 21st Century, and the voices of the ‘digital haves’ will drown out the ‘digital have-nots’,” the attorneys general wrote. “In effect, the Information Superhighway will become a toll road. Those who pay will rapidly reach their audiences, while newcomers, startups and others with limited resources will be left behind.”

The attorneys general encouraged the FCC to change its classification of internet access from an “information service” to a “telecommunications service that provides information.” This would enable the FCC to apply common carrier obligations to broadband providers. The attorneys general argued that such a move would protect net neutrality principles by obligating them to deliver traffic of all users “indifferently,” without depriving them of the ability to efficiently manage their network operations to accommodate “the different costs, functions, and burdens imposed by various users.”

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