Rural Broadband Policy Group Applauds Ms. Parul Desai’s Appointment as Open Internet Ombudsperson

Today, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Alison Kutler appointed Parul P. Desai to serve as the Open Internet ombudsperson, the public’s primary point of contact within the agency for formal and informal questions and complaints related to the Open Internet rules. The Open Internet rules, adopted by the Commission on February 26, 2015 and effective as of June 12, 2015, established “an ombudsperson to assist consumers, businesses, and organizations with open Internet complaints and questions by ensuring these parties have effective access to the Commission’s processes that protect their interests.” Ms. Desai will manage questions or complaints regarding the Open Internet to ensure that small and often unrepresented groups reach the appropriate bureaus and offices to address specific issues of concern. Please see the official announcement here.

The Rural Broadband Policy Group commends the Commission on creating this key position to protect the fair treatment of all individuals online, and applauds Ms. Desai’s appointment as ombudsperson.

The following statement can be attributed to Edyael Casaperalta, Coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

“Ms. Desai has a long history of advocating for the public interest in the telecommunications sector and looking out for the most vulnerable consumers, which include people in rural and low-income communities. Her appointment as Open Internet ombudsperson is a natural fit given her expertise protecting consumers during her time at Media Access Project, Consumers Union, and the FCC’s Consumers and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

Artists, entrepreneurs, activists, and low-income people in rural areas can now report bad behavior from providers slowing down their connection or stifling their voice online. Ms. Desai’s role as ombudsperson is crucial particularly now that a growing number of states have passed laws preventing any state agency from collecting consumer complaints on telecommunications services. This means that the FCC and the Open Internet ombudsperson are increasingly the only recourse vulnerable consumers will have to report bad provider behavior.

We are delighted to see the Open Internet ombudsperson position launch, and will encourage rural consumers to log their complaints with Ms. Desai.”

The Ombudsperson can be reached at: ombudsperson@fcc.gov or 202-418-1155. To file a complaint online, go to consumercomplaints.fcc.gov, click “File a Complaint” in the Internet icon, and select “Open Internet” as the issue area. Complaints can also be submitted by phone at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322), and ASL Videophone: 1-844-432-2275 or by mail.