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Let’s not stack the deck against consumers and innovators by rolling back the Open Internet Order

Having both the FTC and the FCC on the privacy beat provides consumers with protections for their sensitive data.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler holds hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn (L) and Jessica Rosenworcel during an open hearing on net neutrality, Feb. 26, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson / Getty

As two of the members of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, we have helped shape how our government has responded to the rapid shifts in our economy and our relationship to technology. From our vantage point, we have come to realize that the main component of our innovation economy is not data or communication networks, but is instead the trust of the American consumer.

When a consumer trusts that their data will be secure as it travels across the internet or that they can access new online services without discrimination, they become part of the virtuous cycle that drives an idea to an invention and ultimately to adoption. Undermining this ecosystem threatens our continued innovation.

This is why efforts to roll back the Open Internet Order would be harmful to consumers and to innovators. Ensuring that the internet remains a fountain of innovation and disruption is at the heart of open internet policy. The elimination of clear rules protecting a free and open internet would put us in uncharted territory and would create uncertainty for ISPs, edge providers and consumers alike.

The FCC also took an important step in protecting consumers’ privacy, following in large part the standards that the FTC has long set in its own privacy cases. These rules come at a time when consumers need and want more and better privacy choices. Both agencies bring complementary expertise and differentiated authorities to what, for many consumers, is a largely frustrating feature of their online lives.

Having both the FTC and the FCC on the privacy beat provides consumers with protections for their sensitive data from the moment they receive broadband service to when they update their favorite social media post. While joint privacy enforcement is good for the American consumer, more can be done. This is why we both support efforts in Congress to pass meaningful privacy legislation, and encourage our commissions to work together with other agencies to formulate a unified approach to privacy and data security protection.

In many ways, what the FTC and the FCC have accomplished these past eight years aligns with the promises of the next administration — standing up for the little guy, unleashing the power of the entrepreneur, and making sure that America continues to be the most dynamic economy in the world. Let’s not stack the deck against consumers and innovators, or undermine the technological revolution at our fingertips. Let us instead focus on preserving a ‎free and open internet and privacy protections to the benefit of all consumers.

Terrell McSweeny is a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission. McSweeny began her service at the FTC in April 2014, after serving as chief general counsel for Competition Policy and Intergovernmental Relations for the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division. She joined the Antitrust Division after serving as deputy assistant to the president and domestic policy adviser to the vice president from January 2009 to February 2012. She also worked as an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Reach her @TMcSweenyFTC.

Mignon Clyburn is a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. Clyburn began her service at the FCC in August 2009, after spending 11 years as a member of the sixth district on the Public Service Commission (PSC) of South Carolina. She served as its chair from July 2002 through June 2004. Reach her @MClyburnFCC.

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