Some States May Take FCC To Court Over Net Neutrality Move

Dec 18, 2017
Originally published on December 18, 2017 8:11 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some states may take the FCC to court. The Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality rules last week. This will let your Internet service provider, the company that brings the Internet to your home or your office, treat different websites and other destinations differently. The state attorneys general who have talked of suing include Andy Beshear of Kentucky, who's a Democrat, joins us now from Louisville. Attorney General, good morning.

ANDY BESHEAR: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Given that the FCC sets this policy, and they did set a policy, what would the grounds be for a lawsuit?

BESHEAR: Well, Steve, I think when you look at the process that occurred here before the FCC took its vote, it was critically flawed. As we sit here today, we know that over two million fraudulent comments - comments that represented stolen identities from Kentuckians and others out there - were submitted to the FCC. That's part of that public comment period, which I believe is the most important part of any regulatory process. And so they've made the decisions they've made thus far based on a false basis and a tainted process.

INSKEEP: OK. That sounds disturbing, but I think the majority on the FCC knew what they wanted to do and got lots of information and were pretty sure of themselves. And they argued that allowing an Internet service provider to speed up or slow down service and charge more or less to different businesses that use the Internet can spur different kinds of Internet use and be positive. What's wrong with that?

BESHEAR: Well, what they're doing would significantly harm my state of Kentucky. In Kentucky, the Internet is critical infrastructure for our education system. Our rural school systems can make up for funding challenges by live streaming world class lectures. And many of our students submit their homework or even take classes from regional universities that may be hundreds of miles away.

Our health care system, Steve - we live in one of the sickest states in this country, and telemedicine provides a real opportunity for folks in distant parts of our state to be able to talk to and see specialists. And our economy - almost all of our new jobs that are created in the Commonwealth are small businesses. And the Internet lets them sell their products all over the world. Yet the FCC wants to turn over control of this critical infrastructure to four companies. I think that's a little crazy.

INSKEEP: Although, Ajit Pai, the FCC head - I think if he were here, he might argue that some of those services you describe might become more available. Some people will know that Kentucky has a lot of rural areas. There's a wide variety of Internet service available. There's a shortage of broadband in some areas. And Ajit Pai has specifically said he thinks that it will be easier for Internet service providers to make money to do business and perhaps to extend their service to new places.

BESHEAR: Well, but this is critical infrastructure, Steve. Imagine if these folks came to the American people and said, we're going to turn over every road in America, not just the interstates, every road to four private companies that would get to choose when you got on, where you could go, how fast you could go. And, maybe, if you wanted to get off at one exit, they could make you go to another because they liked the location or the end result there better. No one would be for that. And no one is for this. Over 80 percent of Americans, according to a Maryland poll, are against this. And that's Democrats, Republicans or independents. In other words, the FCC has found the one thing in this polarizing times that have brought us all together. It's brought us all together against this rollback, which means it's a really bad idea.

INSKEEP: Is this bipartisan even in Kentucky? For example, could your state's Republican governor sign on to some effort to roll back this change?

BESHEAR: He could. But what's important here is where the people are. As the attorney general, I represent the people of Kentucky, regardless of their party. And our people are united against this rollback. They want to choose where they shop online, what their entertainment options are, how they get their news. And they want to be able to start that new business, wherever they live, and sell to people all over the world without four landlords determining which customers can come and buy from them and which can't.

INSKEEP: When do you decide if you'll really sue?

BESHEAR: Oh, as long as the FCC continues its current action, I will be suing. No question.

INSKEEP: Attorney General, thanks for the time. Really appreciate it.

BESHEAR: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's Andy Beshear. He is the attorney general of the state - the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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