Think Tanks, Commenters Urge ‘Net Neutrality’ Repeal

Published September 8, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) closed an extended commenting period on August 30 after soliciting the public’s input on plans to undo a 2015 decision by former chairman Tom Wheeler classifying broadband internet as a public utility.

On July 17, Americans for Tax Reform and more than 65 other free-market think tanks and individuals, including The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, submitted a letter to FCC commenting on the Restoring Internet Freedom rule, which would reverse Wheeler’s Open Internet Order. Current and former lawmakers and other individuals also signed the letter.

The Open Internet Order, approved in 2015, is an FCC rule claiming regulatory authority over internet service providers’ (ISPs) traffic decisions, citing Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 as justification for the “net neutrality” order.

Retro Regulation

Matthew Glans, a senior policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, says competition is better for consumers than regulation.

“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,” Glans said. “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.”

Control, Not Neutrality

Katie McAuliffe, federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform, says the Open Internet Order empowers government regulators, not consumers.

“Title II is far more than the idea of ‘neutrality,'” McAuliffe said. “It gives the government control over rates, service footprints, and types of service or delivery. This means that innovation won’t be driven by consumer interests in the same way it has been.”