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Consumers Union Letter to House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Internet Paid Prioritization

Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, writes to express our views on the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology’s hearing, “From Core to Edge: Perspective on Internet Prioritization” being held today. The hearing will discuss “paid prioritization” on the internet and its place in the larger net neutrality debate. Consumers Union has been a long-time supporter of net neutrality rules and has opposed paid prioritization for a variety of reasons. Granting ISPs the power to charge tolls for access to both consumers and content on the internet gives those same ISPs control over who wins and loses on the internet. Unlike edge providers like Amazon or YouTube, ISPs possess “last-mile” entry into consumers’ homes and devices, and that represents genuine gatekeeper power in the marketplace. With many consumers only having one, or maybe two choices for broadband service, there is little option but to tolerate the fees charged by, and the business practices engaged in, (be it blocking or paid prioritization), by their ISP. And, make no mistake, the primary reason that ISPs want to be free to engage in paid prioritization schemes is not to benefit consumers, but to increase their bottom line.