Joining the large coalition of states and advocacy groups preparing to take legal action against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its newly passed net neutrality repeal plan, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced in an email to supporters on Tuesday that she will take part in a multistate suit against the Republican-controlled agency in an effort to “overturn” its attack on the open internet.
“Without net neutrality, mega corporations can dominate the content people see online by paying money to obtain faster speeds.”
—Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General
“Net neutrality is essential for consumers and an informed electorate,” Swanson wrote. “Without net neutrality, broadband companies are free to block content they don’t want you to see, to slow it down and make it harder to access, or to prioritize content based on who pays them money. This will make it more difficult and more expensive for consumers to access the content they want.”
Swanson went on to link corporate-backed efforts to roll back net neutrality protections to corporate mergers that are rapidly consolidating sources of news and information into the hands of a few large companies.
“This isn’t just a consumer protection issue—it’s a democracy protection issue too,” Swanson wrote.
Eliminating net neutrality, Swanson observes, would tighten major corporations’ stranglehold on information and allow them to “control what content to make prominent or to obscure, including by promoting sites they own or favor. This will influence the information to which voters and the public have access and will impact elections.”
“Congress might try to pass a law next year to cement the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality,” Swanson’s email concluded. “If you share my concerns, I hope you will consider contacting your members of Congress to let them know that you support an internet that is free, fair, open, and accessible by everyone.”
According to numbers compiled by Battle for the Net, Americans are doing precisely that. Since FCC chair Ajit Pai’s plan to kill net neutrality was unveiled just before Thanksgiving, more than 1.3 million calls have been placed to members of Congress, demanding that they voice support for net neutrality and overrule the FCC’s decision using the Congressional Review Act. (Battle for the Net has also set up a “scoreboard” for Americans to track their representatives’ position on neutrality.)
Public opposition to the FCC’s vote has also been reflected in new polls and an upsurge in consumer complaints.
A Huffington Post/YouGov survey published over the weekend found that only 20 percent of Americans who are aware of the concept of net neutrality support Pai’s plan, while 57 percent oppose it.
And as Axios reported on Tuesday, consumers filed more than 2,000 complaints through the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center in December, up from just 157 in October.