Latta Bill Would Block Title II

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) has introduced legislation to prevent the FCC from reclassifying broadband as, at least in part, a Title II common carrier service, something ISPs have long characterized as the "nuclear option" approach to open Internet regs. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association backs the bill, , which would define Internet access as an information service, and would not allow an information service to be classified as a common carrier.

“In light of the FCC initiating yet another attempt to regulate the Internet, upending long-standing precedent and imposing monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations on the 21st century broadband marketplace, Congress must take action to put an end to this misguided regulatory proposal,” said Latta in announcing the bill.

On his Web site, the legislation was framed as a response to the FCC's release of "a proposal to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II as a telecommunications service rather than an information service."

Actually, the proposal was to use Sec. 706 authority, rather than reclassification, although in response to major pushback from network neutrality groups, Wheeler emphasized that Title II was on the table and could, and would, be used if necessary to insure rules that would stand court review.  The FCC proposal could include a hybrid approach that uses Title II as a backstop to 706. The FCC voted in a split decision to propose the Sec. 706 route but asked questions about whether that was sufficient and how, in the alternative, Title II should be applied.

That was enough to get Title II opponents nervous about the prospects that Title II reclassification would wind up being the FCC's preferred route for justifying new anti-blocking and anti-unreasonable discrimination rules.

“Since the late 1990s, policymakers and regulators have established a bipartisan consensus that a light regulatory touch provides the best path for ensuring that the Internet will become an engine of economic growth and social prosperity," said NCTA in a statement. "We support the efforts of Vice Chairman Latta to codify current policy and to ensure that the Internet continues to grow and remains open and free from the burdens of outdated, public utility regulation.”

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.