Friday, March 06, 2015
Billy Long: We don't need heavy-handed government internet interference
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted February 26th to reclassify broadband Internet as a “telecommunications service” and regulate it as a public utility under Title II. The bottom line here is the FCC adopted Great Depression-era regulations to regulate the Internet.
Under the change, the FCC will soon subject both hardwire and wireless broadband service providers to increased strict federal oversight of open Internet services. Before the FCC vote, broadband Internet was classified as an “information service” preventing burdensome regulations upon broadband service providers.
The independent FCC panel of five unelected, party-line appointed bureaucrats voted 3-2 to move forward with the rule despite the plan being withheld from the public before the vote. Also, a number of congressional investigations have been launched in recent weeks looking into any undue influence President Obama and his administration may have had in the independent agency’s promulgation of the rule, which would be a breach of legal protocol.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which I am a member, has been working on a legislative solution under the direction of subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden to achieve an open Internet. Our far more transparent approach would achieve open Internet policies such as preventing “throttling” of select content and disallowing paid prioritization of content while avoiding the service’s reclassification under Title II. Our plan would continue a light regulatory approach and is a stark contrast to the FCC action, which many fear lays the groundwork for future regulations of the Internet.
The Internet’s foundation is based upon a system of individuals’, organizations’, private and public networks. These networks are paid for in a variety of different ways, and most are private property. I believe that those who own and maintain those systems should stipulate how their property is used. The last thing we need is heavy-handed government intervention from bureaucrats who have a limited understanding about what the Internet should become, what services it should provide or how those services should be delivered to the public.