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Commerce Committee Criticism of Net Neutrality Regs: "There is No Crisis"

"There is no crisis warranting government intervention." That is how the Republican-led Energy & Commerce Committee majority staff begins the discussion of the FCC's new network neutrality rules in a member and staff briefing memo, a copy of which was obtained by B&C.

The committee's Communications Subcommittee is hosting all five FCC commissioners at a Feb. 16 hearing on the new network neutrality regulations, which Fred Upton (R-Mich.) chairman of the committee, and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) chair of the subcommittee, joined by other Republicans, are trying to block legislatively.

The briefing memo leaves no doubt as to why the majority thinks that is necessary. "If left unchallenged, the FCC's theory of authority for this power grab would allow it to regulate almost any interstate communication service on barely more than a whim and without congressional input," the memo says.

To its credit the memo does point out that the network neutrality rules had their antecedents in principles articulated by a Republican FCC Chairman (Michael Powell), formally adopted as principles by Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, then enforced by Martin against Comcast in the BitTorrent case.

But it also points out that the courts threw out BitTorrent, and argue that the FCC under Democratic Chairman Julius Genachowski was "scrambling" to fill an Obama campaign pledge when it "chose to move forward under the cover of the [congressional] holiday recess" when it approved the rules only days before Christmas.