House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is one of the latest members of Congress—there are three new ones—targeted with home district billboards by net neutrality activists.
Walden supports a legislative solution to clarifying FCC regs, but one that does not include Title II classification of ISPs. That position does not sit well with activists who see the common carrier classification as the only way to ensure nondiscriminatory access to the web.
"With no viable legislation on the table, net neutrality supporters remain opposed to any attempt at legislation that would undermine the strong rules at the FCC, which were fought for by millions of Americans, and are calling on lawmakers to publicly oppose Ajit Pai’s plan, and require the FCC to act with transparency and address serious irregularities in its rulemaking process," Fight for the Future said in a statement.
Related: CALinnovates: Hill Must Resolve Net Neutrality Debate
Also targeted with billboards were Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio). Added to the initial billboards, that makes nine lawmakers now thus called out by the group for their stands on network neutrality.
The billboards include the name of the local ISP. For example, Walden's billboard reads: "Want slower, more expensive Internet? Rep. Walden supports CenturyLink’s plan to destroy net neutrality. Ask him why..."
Fight for the Future has been crowdfunding to buy the billboards targeting what they say are the FCC's efforts to gut net neutrality, and what the FCC chairman says is restoring internet freedom by removing ISPs from the regulatory overhand of last-century Title II regs tailored to phone companies.
The billboards are going up just as the FCC prepares to close its comment period (the deadline is Aug. 30) on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to reclassify ISPs as a providing a Title I information service, rather than a Title II telecom service, and reviewing the no blocking, throttling or paid prioritization rules in the 2015 Open Internet order, which were imposed under that Title II designation.
Pai has said he would welcome direction from Congress clarifying the FCC's internet regulatory authority, but that would require bipartisan cooperation, something in short supply on Capitol Hill these days.
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.
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