PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to FCC’s Move to End Obama-era Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 2–1 today to reverse the Obama-era rule that classified broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which treated Internet service providers (ISPs) like public utilities subject to strict government regulation of “net neutrality.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supports regulating the Internet as an information service, which was its designation from the birth of the digital economy until 2015, when Obama’s FCC classified it under Title II in 2015.

Now begins a 90-day comment period on Pai’s proposed “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal.

The following statements from technology policy 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 Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“Net neutrality imposed by government bureaucrats deserves its place in the digital graveyard – as dead and irrelevant as Netscape, Napster, and And it can’t happen soon enough. We’re lucky the net neutrality rules put in place by President Obama’s FCC haven’t done more to damage innovation and investment in the digital economy.

“Government-directed net neutrality was, is, and always will be a solution in search of a problem. Market incentives created the modern Internet, and free-market competition will ensure it self-regulates to serve consumers with the best service and lowest prices.”

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

“This is a welcome correction of the FCC’s role as regulator. The Obama-era ‘Mother, May I?’ network neutrality regulations were an egregious overreach of the FCC mission as defined by Congress and, if allowed to remain in force, would have damaged the evolution of the Internet and the networked economy in general. Consumers will be well-served by this decision as service providers can now respond rapidly to ever-changing market, technology, and pricing trends.”

Steven Titch
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
Associate Fellow, R Street Institute
[email protected]

“Today’s move away from net neutrality and Title II reclassification for the Internet is a victory that will guarantee the long-term growth of the Internet and the digital economy. Title II regulations are a throwback to a system that no longer exists and is ill-suited to today’s dynamic Internet and broadband markets. The Internet has never really been neutral, and the best way to ensure fair service is to promote competition by reducing, not increasing, the amount of regulation.

“Supporters of net neutrality have argued absent neutrality laws, Internet service providers (ISPs) would be able to create tiered high-speed access lanes, leaving the fastest connection for wealthiest customers and relegating lower-income consumers to lower speed connections. This is unrealistic, as any company choosing to offer its customers reduced speeds compared to a higher tier would likely lose customers to more reasonable competitors.

“Net neutrality strongly suppresses broadband development, blocking ISPs from managing the networks they spent billions of dollars to develop. When the profit incentive to build new networks is blunted by burdensome regulations, one should not be surprised to see providers reluctant to expand – which means consumers lose out on new products and services.

“The Internet has thrived due to its open and market-based nature. Imposing a vast new array of government net neutrality regulations under Title II would stifle what has made the Internet one of the biggest growth sectors of the economy. To ensure the growth of our nation’s broadband infrastructure and the growth of the digital economy, any changes to how the Internet and broadband are regulated needs to look away from outdated regulatory models and instead focus on policies that do not hinder innovation and growth.”

Matthew Glans
Senior Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“For decades, the government’s earlier hands-off approach to Internet regulation facilitated innovation and growth, and – after a brief dalliance with trying to take over the digital world – the FCC is back on the path to getting out of the world-domination business.

“By voting to begin the process of undoing a 2015 power grab led by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and former President Barack Obama, FCC commissioners took a big step towards sanity and common-sense reforms.

“Throughout the summer, FCC commissioners will listen to the public and telecommunications experts on both sides of the issue, and they will make the choice they feel does the most good for the most people. This first step is an encouraging sign for people concerned about facilitating technological progress and maximizing consumer satisfaction.

“Voting to begin rolling back Wheeler’s ham-fisted net neutrality rules is the right solution for putting consumers – not lobbyists and lawmakers – in the drivers’ seat of innovation.”

Jesse Hathaway
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor,
Budget & Tax News
[email protected]

“If it lives by the executive action, it can die by the executive action. The FCC’s Title II power grab can die that way, and absolutely should. I liked the Internet of the first two decades, which thrived without the Obama-era, ham-handed government regulations. Classification as an information service allowed the Internet to become the biggest, fastest, most dynamic and innovative thing ever.

“Many thanks to Donald Trump, Ajit Pai, Michael O’Reilly, and everyone else working to restore the Internet magic status quo.”

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