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FCC Commissioner Clyburn talks about net neutrality at CES

FCC Commissioner Clyburn talks about net neutrality at CES
From Engadget - January 11, 2018

Terrence O'Brien: Hello, internet, and welcome back to CES. I am Managing Editor Terrence O'Brien, live from the Engadget stage from the floor at the insanely crowded and loud Las Vegas Convention Center, and we have a really special treat for you this morning. We have Commissioner Mignon Clyburn from the FCC. You have been there since 2009. You have helped draft the Open Internet Order, and you have been a very vocal defender of net neutrality.

Commissioner Mingon Clyburn: Absolutely. When we see all of this innovation in 2.4 million square feet of floor space -- this was not accidental. This was pooled by good policy, I think, crafted and embodied in a 2015 Open Internet Order that provided certainty. That provided a means to oxygen, so to speak, to all of this innovation and investment.

O'Brien: So what is it about net neutrality that makes it so important to driving innovation? How does it fuel this market?

Clyburn: It took every aspect of the ecosystem and it took every player in this space. It provided certainty for those who need to access online. It said to you that no one, no entity would be able to block all the product or advantage of their business interests over yours. So it provided that level of certainty and openness and inclusion that I think we have taken for granted.

Now, the majority has said, we have basically handed the keys to the internet to large internet service providers. And that certainty is gone. They have the ability to do all the things that we fear the most. That, again, viewed all this innovation and inclusion. You do not have to have a storeroom. It does not even matter where you live if you have online activity. You are able to engage in the space. Commerce, education, help. All of these things are available to you. And that to me is the right shame in all of this.

O'Brien: And at the heart of the Open Internet Order was the reclassifying broadband as a Title II service. Do you still feel that Title II is the best way forward for protecting net neutrality?

Clyburn: It was the strongest legal authority prepared. It was upheld by the court. It provided the level of certain protections for everyone in this space. So I think that if you have that mind meld I am gonna sort of trick you, or if you have that mind meld or regulatory meld that everyone is protected, everyone is enabled, then yes, I think that was the best foot forward.

O'Brien: Opponents argue that those rules were put in place in 1934 under the Telecommunications Act, and it's kind of dated. But instead, they wanna go back to rules put in place in 1996, I believe. What's changed? Why do you think going back to these pre-World War II rules is a better way forward?

Clyburn: I am gonna take a slight issue with that.

O'Brien: Sure.

Clyburn: Foundation might have been laid by what we have learned in the past. Particularly when it comes to critical services like broadband. Like voice service. But what we did with the 2015 rules is we got rid of 25 provisions. We got rid of over 77 hundred rules in regulations. We got rid of those because they were no longer applicable in an innovative 21st-century space. You do not throw away the foundation of what has enabled the protections and innovations in the first place. What you do is improve upon them. What you do is get rid of the rules that are no longer applicable.

You do not just throw away years of what we have learned. Because again, what we see on this floor is based on years of what we have learned on the adapting of where we are headed. That's to ignore and pretend that all of those things are not building blocks to innovative creativity and success. I think it's shortsighted.

O'Brien: And I wo not lie and say I have read the entire repeal order. It is 546-something pages, I believe. But I did kind of peruse through it. I saw multiple times, stories cited, including from sites like Engadget. It seems as if they are trying to paint companies like Google who support net neutrality as being hypocritical and questioning their genuineness because they do things like remove YouTube from Amazon Echo's shows and other things. Does that line of argument strike you as convincing?

Clyburn: Let's be clear about what we are doing and what we have the authority to do. No. 1: We do not regulate air providers, which Google is one. And No. 2, which is really No. 1, is we are talking about access to the internet. So I do not want us to plate or confuse by how others who are not our internet service providers; how they conduct themselves. That's another agency and another conversation.

What we are talking about is your online experience and who is in charge of that experience. Is it you or is it your internet service provider? That is the question.

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