May 16, 2018

Senator Warren Delivers Floor Speech on Vote to Save Net Neutrality

Warren: "The internet doesn't belong to giant internet companies... It belongs to all of us."

Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - In a speech delivered today on the Senate floor, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke in favor of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality protections. In her remarks, Senator Warren discussed the importance of a fair and open internet, and criticized Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, for putting the interests of giant internet providers over those of the American people.  She urged her colleagues to join her in voting in favor of the resolution.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
May 16, 2018

At this very moment, a high school junior is reading a report online for a class paper that she has due at the end of the week. Not far from her house, a single mom who recently quit her job to follow her dream of becoming an app developer is online teaching herself to code. In a city thousands of miles away, a small business owner is processing an order online to keep the lights on and the bills paid for another month. And every night in living rooms across this country, grandparents pick up their smartphones to video chat with new born grandchildren who are hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Let's face it: The internet is intricately woven into the fabric of American society. It is a very important part of our lives. But right now our access to a fair and open internet is under siege. In December, the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, voted to eliminate the net neutrality protections that stop internet providers from blocking access, filtering content, or charging higher fees for fast lanes-three tactics that giant internet companies want to use to control the internet.

Mr. President, the repeal of these protections has corporate greed and corruption written all over it. This may be what the special interests want, but the American people are opposed to the very idea of a restricted internet. Net neutrality provisions are wildly popular. When it comes to a free and open internet, 83% of Americans are clear about their position. They want and they demand a free and open internet. That is true for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and people from all backgrounds. So you have to ask yourself, why would the FCC vote to eliminate those protections? I'll tell you why, because under this administration the FCC has become a puppet for giant internet providers. The FCC's current chairman, Ajit Pai, has made it clear that he will work to put special interests over what's good for the American people.

The FCC was once an agency dedicated to protecting and promoting the public interest, but it has morphed into to an agency that exists solely to do the bidding of giant telecom companies. It is a disgrace. But who can say that we didn't see this coming? When Donald Trump won the White House, then FCC Commissioner Pai said that net neutrality's days were numbered. And once Trump selected Pai to lead the FCC, Chairman Pai immediately got to work getting rid of net neutrality.

He opened up a new public comment period laying out a plan to destroy net neutrality, and he made it clear that he would ignore the views of millions of Americans who weighed in to urge him to abandon that plan.

The FCC received more comments on Chairman Pai's plan to kill net neutrality than any other rule in FCC's history. Millions submitted comments opposing Chairman Pai's plan to kill net neutrality. But the FCC said it would ignore those comments unless they were, in its opinion, serious legal arguments. During the comment process, it was revealed that some of the comments had come from bots that had stolen Americans' identities.  Others had come from Russian addresses. But Pai dismissed those concerns. He demonstrated that, no matter what, he would forge ahead with his plan to hand over the internet to the biggest and most powerful internet providers.

If Chairman Pai's plan is implemented, internet companies will literally get to set their own rules governing access to the internet. As long as they put their rules somewhere in the fine print, internet providers can pretty much do whatever they please.

That's not the way government is supposed to work. The internet was created by a bunch of government and government-funded workers, and it is the government's job to protect Americans' access to a fair and open internet.

 The internet doesn't belong to giant internet companies.

  • It belongs to the student striving to build a better future.
  • It belongs to the young women and men working day and night on a new idea that will change the world.
  • It belongs to the small business owner whose success depends on operating her business online.
  • It belongs to the grandmas and the grandpas, the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, and friends who depend on the internet to remain connected to the people they love.
  • It belongs to people who like to watch their favorite shows online, or read the news, or shop, or play video games, or just browse the internet.
  • It belongs to all of us.

And if the FCC will not stand up for the public interest, it's up to Congress to do so. But it'll take this Republican-controlled Congress prying itself free from the grip of giant companies and doing what's right for the American people.

Today, we can take the first step. I ask every one of my colleagues in the Senate to join me in voting yes on the CRA resolution to restore net neutrality provisions.