US House Hearing on Preserving an Open Internet

The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 11:00 am in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled “Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech.”

Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech

Key Documents

  • Hearing Announcement Press Release

  • Memorandum from Chairman Pallone to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology


  • Mr. Tom Wheeler Fellow, Brookings InstitutionTestimony

  • Ms. Jessica J. González, Vice President of Strategy & Senior Counsel, Free Press & Free Press Action FundTestimony

  • Ms. Denelle Dixon, Chief Operating Officer MozillaTestimony

  • Ms. Ruth Livier Actress, Writer, and UCLA Doctoral StudentTestimony

  • Mr. Michael Powell, President and CEO, NCTA – The Internet & Television AssociationTestimony

  • Mr. Joseph Franell, General Manager and CEO, Eastern Oregon TelecomTestimony

Reps. Doyle and Eshoo Open the House Net Neutrality Hearing

Feb 7, 2019 press release.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA)

Click here to watch video of Congressman Doyle's opening statement.

Washington, DC – February 7, 2019 – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, gave the following opening statement at the beginning of the hearing the Subcommittee held today entitled “Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech.”

"Welcome to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology’s first hearing of the one hundred sixteenth congress.

First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce for making me the Chair of this subcommittee. I consider it a great honor and a great responsibility to hold this gavel. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on the Committee.

I believe we share many of the same goals and values. I believe strongly in the power of competition to spark innovation, expand access, and give consumers a better experience at a lower price.

Today’s hearing is on Net Neutrality. I believe this is one of the most important digital rights issues we face today. The Internet is certainly one of the most influential inventions ever, and today it touches almost all aspects of our economy, culture, and politics. According to estimates by the Bureau of Economic Analysis the digital economy accounts for 6.5 percent of the total US Economy or roughly $1.2 trillion a year in GDP.

Last year, the Pai-FCC repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order. Let me be clear, this repeal had far greater impact than just removing the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules. It was a step back by the FCC from its role as the agency that regulates and oversees internet access – and a fundamental shift from all previous FCC chairs, who worked to put in place enforceable Net Neutrality rules and preserve the Commission’s vital oversight and consumer protection roles.

Today, the online publication Motherboard is again reporting that mobile carriers sold access to millions of consumers real time locations to bounty hunters and who knows who else. Its investigation found that one entity had requested more than 18,000 data location requests. These allegations are very troubling and need to be addressed and investigated.

Last year, firefighters in California had their mobile command center’s internet connection slowed down to a snail’s pace because they had exceeded their data limit. Because of the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order, and specifically the repeal of sections 201 and 202 of the Communications Act, as well as the general conduct standard, the Firefighters couldn’t call the FCC to restore critical access to their systems. Instead, they had to call up their wireless company and pay a representative over the phone to increase their data plan, while in the midst of fighting the largest, most complex fire in California’s history!

In fact, because of the repeal, these practices were permissible under the FTC’s jurisdiction, because they were disclosed in the terms of service.

If we agree that public safety is a priority, we need to make sure that they are a priority, and not just another subscriber. We not only need rules on the books that protect and preserve our nation’s digital economy. We need a cop on the beat — and the FCC is the agency that was empowered by Congress to protect consumers, competition, and innovators access to the Internet.

Thank you all again for being here and I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

Click here to watch video of Congresswoman Eshoo's opening statement.

Pallone Remarks at House Net Neutrality Hearing

Click here to watch video of Congressman Pallone's opening statement.

Feb 7, 2019 Press Release here.

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr.’s (D-NJ) remarks as prepared today for a Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on “Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech:”

I want to welcome everyone to this first, important hearing of this Subcommittee this Congress.

Today’s hearing examines a communications service that is essential to consumers and businesses alike. The internet is indispensable to modern life and a catalyst for American innovation and social interaction.

Until last year, both Republican and Democratic led Federal Communications Commissions’ recognized that net neutrality principles were core for ensuring the internet remained free and open.

Until last year, both Republican and Democratic FCCs believed that when consumers payed their hard-earned money each month to connect to the internet, they should get access to the entire internet.

And until last year, both Republican and Democratic FCCs would nod in agreement that your internet service provider (ISP) should not be the one deciding what you see, how you see it, and when you see it.

The FCC under Republicans and Democrats stepped in to stop net neutrality violations that stifled innovative technologies and allowed ISPs to pick winners and losers on the internet. They knew that consumers would lose if the government stood by and did nothing.

After all, the history of broadband is chock-full of bad behavior that strong net neutrality protections like those in the FCC’s 2015 order were designed address. I’d like to introduce an article for the record from Free Press, detailing many of those violations.

Instead of standing with the American people, however, the Trump FCC eliminated common sense net neutrality protections under the guise of promoting broadband investment.

While ISPs told the FCC what it wanted to hear, its senior executives told a different tale to investors. Hindsight tells us that the ISPs were more honest to Wall Street than the FCC. Despite enormous tax benefits from the GOP Tax Scam, and the elimination of net neutrality rules, many of the largest ISPs invested less in broadband than in previous years.

The FCC also ignored the millions of Americans pleading for strong net neutrality protections. The agency falsely claimed a flood of pro-net neutrality comments was a denial of service attack. Shortly thereafter, it accepted an onslaught of bogus submissions aimed at skewing the FCC’s rulemaking against net neutrality. Clearly, Chairman Pai’s mind was made up from the beginning. But while the FCC turned a blind eye to the American people, Congress, the New York Attorney General’s Office, and the FBI took heed.

In the wake of the repeal, the Republican-led Senate passed a Congressional Review Act resolution, rejecting the FCC’s mistake. 182 members of the House supported the same, urging then Speaker Ryan to hold a vote on the CRA. Speaker Ryan ignored the public, and so the American people handed control of the House to Democrats in November, giving us a second chance.

Without a change, there is no backstop to make sure big corporations can’t use their power over the choke points of the internet to undermine and silence their small competitors or the political opposition. Consumers don’t have anywhere to turn when they are wronged by these large corporations because the FCC took itself off the beat entirely. Consumers are left watching the internet slowly change in front of their eyes.

Research shows many ISPs are throttling streaming video service or boosting some websites over others. Wireless internet providers charge consumers an H.D. fee just like your pay-tv company. And this is all happening when ISPs are on their best behavior because the court is considering whether to overturn Chairman Pai’s order, and they know Congress is watching. I shudder to think what plans are being hatched up for when they think no one is watching. Those plans won’t be good for consumers, competition, or innovation.

Until strong open internet protections are enacted, our only hope is the millions of Americans who are fed up and will hold Congress accountable for passing strong net neutrality laws. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to return strong safeguards to the internet.