FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2017
NHMC Releases New Net Neutrality Documents to Public Showing Importance of Open Internet Order, Urges FCC to Open New Comment Period to Examine
Today, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has publicly released the second installment of Federal Communications Commission documents showing that the Net Neutrality protections the Commission plans to dismantle have provided effective remedies for consumers. The documents, recently released under a FOIA request filed by NHMC in May, show that consumers turned to the FCC for help to remedy the open internet violations that they experienced. NHMC plans to upload these documents to the FCC website this week, making them part of the record and official docket.
The newly-released documents from the FCC further highlight that customers experienced throttling of services and blocking of websites, and were unsuccessful in having the issues resolved through their ISP’s customer service mechanisms. The FCC ombudsperson played a critical role in helping consumers file service complaints and provided support when consumers turned to the FCC as a last resort measure.
“This small glimpse into the universe of consumer complaints show that the FCC blatantly ignored the evidence that the agency had in its possession throughout its push to scrap the vital consumer protections established by the Open Internet Order,” said Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Now, we can clearly see the effectiveness of open internet protections on the books–consumers were able to voice the harms they experienced and seek help to remedy them. While the agency attempted to avoid the scrutiny of the public through today’s deadline to file comments, the FCC still has a chance to do a proper analysis of the documents, give Public Notice and initiate a new comment cycle. This is an opportunity for the FCC to prove that they will no longer shirk their responsibility to prevent corporate abuses and keep the open internet open.”
View the documents and timeline here: http://www.nhmc.org/foia-release/
In NHMC’s initial FOIA request, the organization requested consumer complaints under the Open Internet Order of 2015, with responses from the ombudsperson and carriers, to shed light on the critical value of the net neutrality protections that the FCC is working to dismantle. NHMC has received a partial production of the documents, now available on the NHMC website, but are still waiting for a completion date to receive the remainder of the documents from the FCC.
On July 7, NHMC submitted a Motion for Extension of Time arguing that the documents –critical to the Net Neutrality proceeding– must first be released for analysis and the Comment deadline should be extended by 60 days to complete productions. In the motion, NHMC raised several potential Administrative Procedure Act violations because the FCC failed to analyze or release evidence it holds in its exclusive possession. The FCC denied that motion on July 17 and the agency has not committed to sharing the documents with the public or initiating a new comment deadline, beyond August 30, for the new and forthcoming documents to influence the outcome of their current push to eliminate the net neutrality rules in place since 2015.
“The FCC can and should do better by the thousands of internet users that called upon them for help holding corporations accountable and the millions who have engaged in and trusted the process for evaluating net neutrality protections on their merits,” continued Scurato. “Latinos and other people of color already face too many hurdles to access the internet. The FCC should commit to transparency moving forward.”
NHMC continues to urge the FCC to release the documents publicly, provide their own analysis, give Public Notice and start a new comment period that allows for meaningful input on the new evidence. The organization included the first 1,000 sample complaints provided by the FCC in formal comments sent on behalf of the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition.
“In the interest of proper rulemaking, the FCC should immediately release the over 47,000 consumer complaints and the ombudsperson documents and allow the public sufficient time to review and comment on them,” sixteen public interest groups wrote in a letter backing NHMC’s FOIA request. “This would allow the commission and the public the ability to fully assess the benefits to consumers and the behavior of ISPs since the 2015 Open Internet Order went into effect.”
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is the media watchdog for the Latino community, ensuring that we are fairly and consistently represented in news and entertainment and that our voices are heard over the airwaves and on the internet.
We exist to challenge executives and influencers throughout the entertainment and news industry to eliminate barriers for Latinos to express themselves and be heard through every type of medium. NHMC works to bring decision-makers to the table to open new opportunities for Latinos to create, contribute and consume programming that is inclusive, free from bias and hate rhetoric, affordable and culturally relevant.