The House could act on a Senate-passed Joint Resolution (S.J. Res. 52) providing for congressional disapproval of the rule issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) related to “Restoring Internet Freedom.” Sponsored by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), S.J. Res. 52 would use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reestablish draconian net neutrality regulations imposed on broadband internet service providers under former President Obama’s FCC. Those net neutrality rules were recently repealed by the FCC under the courageous leadership of Chairman Ajit V. Pai.
In 2015, the FCC imposed a “net neutrality” rule regulating broadband internet service providers as public utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This misguided 2015 Open Internet Order applied 1930s-era regulations designed for telephone companies to 21st century internet service providers in a gross overreach of federal authority.
This past February, the FCC published the “Restoring Internet Freedom” rule that repealed the so-called Open Internet Order and freed the internet by classifying broadband internet access service as an “information service” subject to a much lighter and more appropriate regulatory framework.
The “Restoring Internet Freedom” order “restores the classification of broadband Internet access service as a lightly-regulated ‘information service’; reinstates private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service; requires Internet service providers to disclose information about their network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service; and eliminates the Internet Conduct Standard and the bright-line rules.”
Importantly, this new rule also restored the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the sole federal agency charged with protecting consumers across the entire online ecosystem. Consumer protection is a responsibility the FTC has historically possessed and has executed well. By re-establishing the FTC’s power to regulate broadband privacy and data security, all ISPs are under a level playing field when it comes to collecting and selling the personal data of individuals.
At the time of the announcement, Heritage Action’s Vice President Dan Holler praised the order as “a huge win for millions of American consumers who desire more choice and competition when it comes to internet services” and gave Chairman Pai credit for “fulfilling his promise of taking a weed whacker to costly and unnecessary regulation that hinders investment, innovation, and job creation.”
Contrary to what the hysterical left-wing rhetoric would have the American people believe, repealing “net neutrality” has not led to the death of the internet as we know it, nor has it led to higher prices or slower internet traffic. Senior Research Fellow in Regulatory Policy at The Heritage Foundation, James L. Gattuso, underscores this point in a recent Orange County Register op-ed:
In the case of net neutrality, the [Obama-era] rules make consumer prices more—not less—likely to rise. That’s because the rules apply only to the backend connection between ISPs and content providers. That makes it harder to make content companies pay for the costs they impose—leaving the consumer to carry the load. . . . The explosion of creativity, innovation, access and choice on the web did not begin suddenly since 2015. It occurred not—as the fantasists would have you believe—as a result of FCC ISP restrictions—but in their absence.
Lawmakers who believe in internet freedom and consumer choice should support the Trump administration’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” rule and reject S.J. Res. 52.
Heritage Foundation: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Discusses Restoring Internet Freedom with The Heritage Foundation (2017)
Heritage Action: FCC Takes Weed Whacker to Net Neutrality Rules (2017)
Heritage Foundation: Debunking the Left’s Myths on Net Neutrality (2017)
Heritage Foundation: Repealing Net Neutrality Is Actually Good for the Internet (2018)