“If we’re going to open and free Internet, there has to be some counterweight to the power of the big Internet service providers,” he told Sputnik on the sidelines of the FCC vote Thursday morning, adding he supports the proposed rules “absolutely and wholeheartedly.”
Copps dismissed criticisms by FCC member Ajit Pai that the proposed rules impose excessive regulation and amount to a government power grab.
“There’s virtually no regulation right now. There’s in many markets in this country monopoly power exercised by these ISPs [Internet service providers],” Copps said. “You can’t have both monopoly power and no regulation – that’s just an invitation to total monopoly and total undermining of the public interest so that this most powerful technology in all of history, the internet, becomes not the province of all of us for the common good, but it becomes the playground of the favored few.”
The proposal unveiled by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this month bars Internet service providers from blocking access to legal content, speeding up or slowing down access to content, or prioritizing certain sites in exchange for payment.
Wheeler’s proposal would reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service, a designation that gives the FCC authority to regulate the Internet like a public utility and requires companies to provide Internet services to everyone at uniform rates.
If the proposal is enacted, the FCC will establish a new body to receive complaints and take appropriate enforcement action against Internet service providers who violate net neutrality rules.