Lawmakers Propose Plan to Block FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Regulations

Published April 6, 2015

Responding to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) assertion of regulatory power over the Internet, congressional lawmakers have submitted a bill that would halt FCC’s 400-page “net neutrality” regulations before they are implemented and would prevent future regulators from granting themselves similar authority.

Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bob Latta (R-OH) sponsored the Internet Freedom Act, a bill designed to block FCC’s plan to regulate Internet service providers (ISP) as utility companies. FCC asserts it has the authority to regulate ISPs using the Telecommunications Act of 1996’s Title II powers. Latta is vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, responsible for overseeing FCC.

Scott Cleland, a telecommunications policy analyst who served as deputy U.S. coordinator for communications and information policy in the George H.W. Bush administration says outdated regulations are already slowing economic innovation and harming consumers.

Cleland also serves as a policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News.

‘Hyper-Politicized and Self-Centered’

“Currently, we have the most antiquated regulations controlling the most modern part of the economy,” Cleland said. “The FCC has become hyper-politicized and self-centered. What it is doing is best for the FCC, not consumers or America.”

Cleland says FCC’s decision to regulate the Internet as a utility, like it would an electric or water service, is a blunder.

‘A Really Stupid Idea’

“FCC Title II utility regulation of the Internet is a really stupid idea,” said Cleland. “It’s ‘fixing’ what’s not broken, radically changing what everyone likes, abandoning what works exceptionally well for what’s failed miserably in the past, and forcing outdated regulations on the most modern part of the economy.”

Steven Titch, a telecommunications policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, says FCC’s net neutrality regulations exceed its legal authority.

“Obviously, they are empowered by Congress to regulate telecommunications and information services,” said Titch. “Where I think they stepped out of line is when they went forward with the Title II reclassification. The FCC unilaterally took ISPs and redefined them as monopoly utilities. That is where they went out of line.”

Reasserting Congressional Authority

Titch says the proposed bill by Blackburn and Latta would help fix the problem FCC has created.

“Blackburn’s bill is a step in the right direction,” Titch said. “It reasserts Congress’s authority to define the law that the FCC is empowered to follow. The FCC is not in a position to make its own rules. I would support any legislative steps that would reverse this decision.”

Buyer’s Remorse

Titch says the general public’s opposition to FCC’s new regulations is growing as more information is released.

“People are waking up to how bad this idea is,” Titch said. “Perhaps we’ll get some more interest from Democratic representatives in California, when they hear from companies like Netflix that have real regrets about this.

“We are already seeing buyer’s regret on this,” Titch said. “Long-term, there is a good chance [FCC’s regulations will get] rolled back, especially through the courts, but we may not see something come about until there is a new [presidential] administration in place.”

Alexander Anton ([email protected]) writes from Palatine, Illinois.

Adam D. Thierer, “Are ‘Dumb Pipe’ Mandates Smart Public Policy? Vertical Integration, Net Neutrality, and the Network Layers Model,” Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology: