Heartland Institute Experts React to President’s Call for Net Neutrality Regulations

Published November 10, 2014

President Barack Obama today urged the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband networks under Title II, a strict regulatory regime designed for the copper-wire telephone networks of an earlier age, and impose “net neutrality” regulations. The concept of net neutrality is that all bits of data moving over a network are treated equally — as Obama said in the prelude to his statement, a high-school student’s blog should be treated no differently than subscription-based streaming video.

The following statements from experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“The president is calling for the FCC to micromanage the data distribution procedures of ISPs, even though consumers are much happier with their Internet service than they are with, say, Obamacare, the IRS, the border crisis, the TSA’s airport security measures, the administration’s handling of the Ebola threat, and other examples of government’s unparalleled ability to mismanage everything it touches. If the president has his way, soon we’ll have to add the Internet to the list of things the government has ruined in just the past few years.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“President Obama doesn’t understand how the Internet works, or how it became a technological wonder and an economic powerhouse. The president’s call for the FCC to apply Title II regulations to broadband would put all the progress in our digital economy at risk by applying nineteenth century regulatory thinking to a twenty-first century technology.

“A free and open Internet is, by definition, free of heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all regulation by government. If the FCC heeds Obama’s call, born out of ignorance about how free markets have largely self-regulated to best serve consumers, this president would have succeeded in ruining another aspect of our economy.

“Congress must act to stop this end-run around its legitimate law-making authority, and before it is too late.”

Jim Lakely
Director of Communications
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“For twenty years, the solid foundation of a free and open global Internet has been built upon bipartisan, Clinton Administration Internet, trade and foreign policy, that ensured that our global trading partners did not legally classify Internet traffic as a price and tariff regulated ‘telecommunications’ utility service like under Title II. The longstanding, lightly regulated ‘information services’ classification has allowed Internet traffic to flow freely as un-bordered, un-tariffed Internet traffic, rather than UN-regulated and tariffed ‘telecommunications’ trade.

“The U.S. by far has the most to lose economically and geopolitically, if the world follows the president’s lead and imposes their own maximal-regulation of their national Internet infrastructure, because America is by far the largest exporter of Internet content, products and services.

“Edward Snowden’s leaks that the NSA was surveilling most all foreign Internet activity, have catalyzed nations around the world to take more national control over their Internet borders, and the president’s call for imposing the most heavy-handed regulation available in the United States could further accelerate the de-American-ization of the free and open global Internet.

“Changing the legal status of Internet traffic is not a trivial domestic regulatory issue but a major trade and foreign policy issue given how central the Internet has become to America’s economy and its standing in the world.”

Scott Cleland
Policy Advisor, Telecommunications
The Heartland Institute
Chairman, NetCompetition
[email protected]

“I’m not getting that bipartisan, let’s-work-together vibe from the president. I’m not getting that ‘I get what happened in the election’ feeling either.

“The president and his FCC have the opportunity to work with Congress to shape twenty-first century Internet policy. Instead, they are about to unilaterally time warp the Web with flashback FDR-era rules.

“Reclassification won’t promote investment and growth. It will encase in amber the Internet for about half a decade – frozen still while the private sector has to yet again sue the government to undo yet another regulatory overreach.

“The Internet is absolutely as important as the president says it is – just as it currently is. Why is he insisting on fundamentally transforming it with this huge unilateral power grab?

“The Internet is a free speech–free market Xanadu. It is anything but broken. Why is the perpetually broken government trying to ‘fix’ it?”

Seton Motley
President, Less Government
Policy Advisor, Telecom
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.