Hi again! It’s me, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, coming to chat with you all on the anniversary of the agency’s net neutrality vote. On the FCC, I’m now the only Democrat, the only woman, and the only one here that supports net neutrality—and I believe it’s as important as ever that we keep raising our voices to fight for a fair and open internet. That’s because I think you should be able to go where you want and do what you want online without your internet provider getting in the way.

We’ve had some progress on net neutrality, from the Senate’s bipartisan passage of a resolution disapproving of the FCC’s handiwork, to the lawsuits filed against the FCC, to the states who are moving forward on their own, to the federal investigation into the fake comments we saw in the public record. I’m here to answer questions about how net neutrality is still within our reach.

You can also ask me about my new podcast Broadband Conversations, where I speak to amazing women who are making an impact on our digital lives or anything else FCC-related or not (like what powers me through the day in Washington—lots of mediocre coffee, a bit of good dark chocolate, and a boundless belief that the time has come for all of us to speak up about choices being made in Washington because hey, it’s our future at stake).

I’ll be here from 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST to answer your questions.

Proof: https://twitter.com/JRosenworcel/status/1073612272289935362

EDIT: Thanks reddit. This has been a treat. Until next time!

Comments: 424 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

numerounoabuelo814 karma

Why wouldn’t you just let Eminem be?

Official_FCC_CJR675 karma

I know, right.

jupiterkansas359 karma

Monopolies seems to be the primary source of a lot of our current problems, including net neutrality. What can the FCC do to break up internet provider and telecom monopolies?

Official_FCC_CJR445 karma

The Department of Justice is tasked with antitrust action. But here at the FCC I think we have to up our efforts to increase competition. Take broadband. Too few Americans have a meaningful choice of high-speed internet provider at home. I know, I'm one of them. Without competition, we see higher prices and less innovation. That's a problem--and we need to do something about it.


Most Americans have 1 choice. Where I live we have a choice of two companies, but the funny thing is many neighborhoods only have access to one choice. Why are companies allowed to monopolize markets?

Official_FCC_CJR168 karma

At the federal level, they're not. But sometimes state laws prevent other providers, like municipal authorities, from offering broadband alternatives.

jupiterkansas184 karma

Some have said that the FCC has fallen victim to regulatory capture? Do you feel that this is true and how does the FCC remain independent of pressure from the businesses you're supposed to regulate?

Official_FCC_CJR375 karma

I think it's essential for this agency to listen to the public first and always. But here's what has me concerned: the rulemaking process at this agency is increasingly crowding the public out. In our net neutrality proceeding, millions of Americans filed comments expressing their support for an open internet. In fact, one study from Stanford University found that more than 99% of unique comments supported keeping in place FCC net neutrality policies. But millions of comments that came in were fraudulent. There are as many as 9.5 million comments with stolen names and identities. There are half a million comments that came in from Russian e-mail addresses. I mean, what is going on? It distresses me that my colleagues refuse to investigate. That's crazy. We have to do understand why fraud is flooding our public channels for comment at this agency. What is happening now is not fair and not right.

Portarossa106 karma

Realistically, given public involvement in the issue as it stands, what do you think the odds are that we still have Net Neutrality as we know it ten years from now?

Official_FCC_CJR135 karma

I know that the internet and digital life will change a lot over the next decade. What I think is most important is that the public has a voice in how it develops. I think net neutrality is a reflection of that--making sure the internet is open to all--and I think it's worth making a ruckus to save it. So fingers crossed, I think these values can still be with us ten years hence.

Portarossa19 karma

I mean, I agree, but that wasn't really what I was trying to get at. How likely do you think it is, if people stay as engaged as they are right now, that Net Neutrality will continue a decade from now? Is this all a Hail Mary sort of situation? Are things progressing in a way that leaves you optimistic for the future, or is it like climate change where we're all going to seriously need to increase our efforts if we don't want to be utterly boned in years to come?

Official_FCC_CJR54 karma

I'm an impatient optimist. I think if people stay engaged, we will have a fighting chance to keep this openness viable in the future. Even ten years from now. And the energy around the country on this subject is still there. I know. I've seen it firsthand when I've traveled in the last few months--everywhere from Michigan to Alabama to Arkansas to North Carolina. It comes up everywhere. I'm hopeful.

a_guile76 karma

How can we help you restore Net Neutrality?

What is your take on Google's Project Dragonfly?

Official_FCC_CJR155 karma

Keep speaking out, keep speaking up, keep making a ruckus. This issue is worth fighting for. It's been great to see the interest in it nationwide. By my count, there are 36 state legislatures that have considered some form of action on this subject since the FCC repeal. There have been 4 states that passed laws (Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and California). There have been 6 governors that have issued executive orders (Montanta, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont). There have been more than 100 mayors--from big cities and little towns--that have signed a net neutrality pledge. On top of that, there are 23 state attorneys general suing the FCC for its handiwork rolling back this policy. Bring it. Keep up the noise--create campaigns, write editorials, reach out to elected officials. That's how we make change. As for the project, I don't think the internet should be censored--and that's why I support net neutrality here at home.

Official_FCC_CJR74 karma

Thanks for joining me. Looking forward to your thoughts and questions.

MusicLawyerinLA51 karma

Are you at liberty to say when the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking re: Quadrennial Review of Media Ownership Rules can be expected to be published in the Federal Register (so the clock starts ticking)? That info would be helpful for calendaring workload. : )

Official_FCC_CJR63 karma

I may have some authority, but the decision about precisely when to publish this rulemaking is above my paygrade. I hope you'll see it in the Federal Register in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can check out my thoughts on the rulemaking right here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-18-179A5.pdf.

future_of_music41 karma

Hi, Commissioner Rosenworcel!

As you know, musicians and independent labels have been early and consistent advocates for net neutrality; it’s crucial for our ability to reach audiences and have our voices heard, and we’re so grateful for your steadfast support!

Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public opinion, it seems like some of your colleagues want to allow big businesses like ISPs make the rules. And now we’re facing another attempt by the big commercial broadcasters to change the rules and allow a single company to own an unlimited number of FM and AM radio stations in most communities. As you’ve pointed out, for many Americans that could mean one company controls every radio station in their town. Commercial radio already plays repetitive and narrow playlists, with less and less local music, and less diversity of viewpoints. This would make the problem even worse, another instance of too few companies having too much control over how we communicate.

Do you think there’s a connection between the fight for net neutrality and the fight for diversity of voices on the radio airwaves?

Official_FCC_CJR72 karma

I get it. In fact, my brother is a musician. He's the drummer for the band Guster. My parents can say they have one child who is a rocker and the other who is a regulator. So your questions register personally and professionally. The bottom line is that having one company dominate the airwaves limits the number of voices that can get heard in a a community. I think the principle that connects these issues is a desire to have fewer gatekeepers.

PeanutCheeseBar35 karma

I know there are a lot of negative comments on here about Ajit Pai (and the two of you obviously disagree on Net Neutrality), but how is it working with him aside from this issue and what is his demeanor in your professional interactions?

Official_FCC_CJR82 karma

My colleagues are decent people. I just disagree with them on some important things--profoundly. I also don't have a giant Reese's mug, btw.

fightforthefuture24 karma

Telecom lobbyists keep saying that since nothing terrible has happened in the year since the repeal, it didn't really matter. Can you explain why that's disingenuous and how we can explain to people what will happen over time if we don't restore net neutrality?

Also, have you heard about DemsAgainstThe.Net? It's a new campaign calling out the 16 Democrats helping kill net neutrality.

Official_FCC_CJR39 karma

Last year I voted against the FCC's decision to roll back net neutrality rules. I believed then and still believe now that an open internet is essential for modern civic and commercial life. As a result of this agency's misguided decision internet service providers now have the legal right to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. That's a fact. And I don't think that's a good thing. But here's what is good: this mess at the FCC awoke a sleeping giant--the American public. Across the country we've seen interest and action--from governors, from mayors, from state legislatures. This issue still resonates and I am still hopeful we can make progress. I am also hopeful that we continue to keep tabs on our broadband providers to ensure that they are not mucking around with our online traffic, blocking access to content, or slowing down services. There are academics studying this now and it's important for all of us--as consumers--to pay attention. I haven't heard about that campaign, btw, but I will check it out.

isgrad12 karma

Given that the FCC can have (and repeatedly has had) huge effects on so many companies, do you think the high ranking positions in the FCC should be awarded through voting instead of appointment? Aside from a few appointed directly by the president, every other position in the country with such high-impact reach is appointed through an election.

Official_FCC_CJR17 karma

Interesting idea. Justine Bateman (of Family Ties and Arrested Development fame) just made the same point on my podcast, Broadband Conversations. You can have a listen here: https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/jessica-rosenworcel#podcast

irishwolf756 karma

Hello, Ms. Jessica. While I am not a Democrat I still believe in personal freedom. As such a person I know that the 1st Amendment limits the governments ability to control speech and expression. How could we as supporters of net neutrality make Congress understand that corporations could unduly hinder free speech and ideas if NN is not enforced?

Official_FCC_CJR18 karma

I also believe in personal freedom. I think when you head online you should be able to go where you want and do what you want without your broadband provider making choices for you. That's why I support net neutrality. I know some people say that net neutrality is like the "First Amendment of the Internet." I get it. I think so, too.

irishwolf7511 karma

I think that the members of Congress that are against NN are being short sighted also. What happens if a company doesn't like your position on a topic. Now they can control who sees you. Less message= less votes. How do we as citizens get past the lobbyists wall ?

Official_FCC_CJR10 karma

I think you make a good point. Concrete examples are important. They usually have more impact than abstractions--and a lot about technology policy can get abstract pretty fast. But it matters! So keep speaking up.

irishwolf755 karma

I would think that this past election cycle would be enough to wake anyone up.

There was a sea change in how our elected officials were looked at. I voted for some people (or not) just based on this position alone.

I agree that more competition is the best thing for the broadband market. I live in a very underserved area and can't imagine how people even have their kids complete homework in worse areas.

Official_FCC_CJR12 karma

When we talk about the digital divide it can be so abstract. Not everyone understands what it is like to live in a community without broadband. But there are 12 million kids across this country without internet access at home. They can't get their nightly schoolwork done as a result. I call that the Homework Gap and I think it's a good way of talking about this problem and making it real. I think it's on all of us to do more of that--show just how lack of access--can harm a community and reduce opportunity in the digital age.

Bless_all_the_knees-2 karma


Official_FCC_CJR15 karma

Threats against my colleagues are unacceptable under any circumstances. But I'm going to keep pressing my colleagues and trying to convince them that this agency needs to do more to ensure everyone has a fair shot at digital age success. I'll be relentless. This is important. And I think too many of this agency's decisions are harming us, not helping us.