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IIA's Boucher: Net Neutrality CRA Isn't Answer

Former Democratic House Communications Subcommittee chair Rick Boucher, now with the Internet Innovation Alliance, says Democrats should drop their effort to nullify the FCC's Dec. 14 net neutrality rule rollback and instead work toward legislation mirroring the 2010 Open Internet order.

That was the compromise rules based in Title I that virtually all the ISPs agreed to.

Boucher says activists pushing a Congressional Review Act resolution in Congress to roll back the rollback are delaying a legislative solution that would insure an open internet for everyone.

In a commentary for Bloomberg/BNA, Boucher said the 2010 would be a "useful" model for that legislative solution.

"Codification of the requirements of that rule, along with a provision declaring broadband to be an information service, would be a simple and straightforward legislative enactment giving both Democrats and Republicans satisfaction on their key priorities," he said. "For Democrats, the priority is open internet rules similar to the ones Democrats endorsed with the 2010 Open Internet order.

Related: Coming to Terms with Title II

For Republicans, the statute would return broadband to information-service status. It’s a win-win solution that should receive bipartisan support.”

Boucher says an added benefit of such legislation is that it could create online privacy protections that apply to the edge as well as ISPs, "so that consumers won’t have to wonder what protections they have, depending on how and where they access the internet."

Boucher said he is confident the two sides can come together, a sentiment expressed earlier in the week by former Communications Subcommittee chairman and current full committee chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), but that would appear to be a long shot given the current tenor of debate in D.C. and, specifically, most Democrats hard line on returning to a Title II regime--a nonstarter for Republicans.

All the Senate's Democrats and a majority of House Dems have said they would support the CRA nullifying the rules and returning to Title II.

Boucher has been consistent in his opposition to Title II. As chairman of the subcommittee back in 2010, he said he would prefer legislation establishing targeted network openness principles to the FCC's proposal of applying Title II regulations to the transmission component of broadband.

Boucher is currently head of the government strategies group at Sidley & Austin in Washington.

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.