Hill Has Even More to Say About Title II

Related:Hill Hails, Pans Title II

Legislators had a lot to say about the FCC's vote Feb. 26 to reclassify ISP's as common carriers under some Title II regulations, both bravos and brickbats. Here is some more of their input.

Following a vote today by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in favor of net neutrality rules proposed by chairman Tom Wheeler, ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) issued the following statement:

"Millions of American consumers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and others who rely on a free and open Internet asked for effective, enforceable net neutrality protections and they received them today," said Rep. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley. "The FCC's vote ensures Internet users will have the strongest possible protections against blocking, throttling and discrimination of online content by their wired and wireless broadband providers." 

"The rules are grounded in the strongest possible legal footing by reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act, the same basic consumer protections used for telephone service. Yelp gave these net neutrality rules 'five stars.' I give the action taken by the FCC today a perfect 10! This is an epic battle between David and Goliath, and David won this round," added Eshoo.

"I applaud the FCC and chairman Wheeler for taking this historic step to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for free expression, innovation, and competition," said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees communications issues. "The Internet is the most powerful platform for communication and commerce ever created, and the Commission's actions today will ensure that the Internet remains free from both government and corporate control. Innovators shouldn't need to ask permission or pay gatekeepers to deploy new products and services online, and the FCC's action today ensures that this remains true. This is an incredible win for consumers, entrepreneurs, and the millions of Americans who called on the FCC to protect the Open Internet."

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee was not happy.

"Despite the Federal Communication Commission's partisan action to approve a 317-page power grab over the Internet, the fight to keep the Internet unburdened from regulatory overreach is far from over," said Senator John Thune (R-S.D.).

"As parties line up to challenge this action in court, it will soon be time for Congressional Democrats to review the situation and decide if they are prepared to join a bipartisan effort that brings real certainty to American consumers and provides the necessary protections to the Internet. Only action by Congress can fix the damage and uncertainty this FCC order has inflicted on the Internet."

Thune is among the sponsors of a bill that would clarify the FCC's broadband regulatory authority, including that it could not be based in Title II, and would limit is authority to regulate broadband under Sec. 706 authority, both of which make the bill a nonstarter with most Democrats, whose leader, President Obama, has strongly endorsed Title II, and has called for pre-emption of state laws limiting broadband build-outs, a step the FCC took in two states this week based on that Sec. 706 authority.

"The FCC, led by three Democrat bureaucrats hand-picked by President Obama, approved a secret plan to fundamentally undermine a free and open Internet," said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.). "This decision ushers in a new era of government micro-management that will discourage private investment in new networks and stifle the innovation that has allowed the Internet to flourish. With the recent failures and mismanagement of Obamacare, it is astounding that anyone would think that heavy handed regulation by government bureaucrats can manage the Internet. This is a solution in search of a problem. I look forward to serious Congressional pushback against this secretive effort which threatens America's continued leadership in the global Internet economy."

""Today the FCC voted to regulate the Internet like a 1930s era public utility," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee. "It is indisputable that re-classifying the Internet in this manner will lead to billions of dollars in new fees and taxes for consumers. More importantly, Title II net neutrality is a Trojan horse for a government takeover of the Internet. The courts have already rejected the FCC's attempts to regulate the Internet. The light touch that has allowed the Internet to prosper will be replaced by a heavy-handed approach that will stifle innovation and hand control over placement of content to the government."

The FCC majority has claimed the Title II order will not impose any new fees or taxes.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.