Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) used the FCC's vote on Title II reclassification June 17 to take wider aim at the Obama administration and network neutrality.
Blackburn introduced a bill last fall to block the FCC from expanding and codifying the FCC's Internet openness guidelines. One of the goals of reclassification is to put that proposal on firmer footing.
In a press conference with reporters Thursday, Blackburn and Shimkus mirrored the strong language of fellow Republicans in criticizing the proposal: "We want more pipes not less. We don't want pipe regulated by the national government. We want to incentivize more pipes. Why destroy the only goose that is laying any golden age in this economy by bringing it under the authority and regulatory regime of the national government?"
Shimkus said that the Internet is already open and that the FCC already has the authority to act if someone were "to deny or slow up service for competitive advantage."
"Bad policy, bad timing, bad for jobs," he said.
Blackburn pointed to the 290 members of Congress who indicated to the chairman that Title II classification was "the wrong way to go." She was among them.
She said reclassification would open the door to a network neutrality policy that is the equivalent to the "fairness doctrine for the Internet" and a "permanent antiquation" of the Internet, which she said means that regulations can't keep up with the pace of Internet innovation."
She says the federal government would be asserting control over the Internet and would be the one "to decide and assign priority and value to all the content traveling down the pike."
FCC Chairman Genachowski has repeatedly said that Title II would cover only the transmission element of the 'Net and not content or applications.
She also argued that the FCC's move is one of self-preservation. She said a "newly empowered" FCC would slow innovation to perpetuate the scarcity of bandwidth an architecture that is the basis of their regulatory impulse."
If that is the wrong way to go, Blackburn said the right way would be to come back to Congress on a decision on network neutrality. But she said that light-touch regulation to date has served the Internet well.
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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.