FCC Takes Step Toward Freeing the Internet

Washington – Earlier today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 2-1 to revisit the the 2015 Open Internet Order that imposed what The Heritage Foundation describes as “1930s-era regulations on internet providers.” The Obama-era rule brought internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which was originally intended to provide detailed oversight of telephone companies. Today’s vote will allow a new comment period on “restor[ing] the internet to a light-touch regulatory framework by classifying broadband internet access service as an information service and by seeking comment on the existing rules governing internet service providers’ practices.” Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“Chairman Pai and his colleagues at the FCC have demonstrated leadership by jumpstarting the process of rolling back these so-called net neutrality rules. The political left’s desire to treat internet service providers as publicly regulated utilities will erode choice and competition in the marketplace.

“In the end, consumers would suffer from inadequate service as the federal government’s authority expands. It is rare that a federal agency seeks to give itself less power, but that is exactly what the FCC is proposing. America’s republic would be well served if more public servants took a more humble view of their role in our economy and culture.”

Earlier this year, The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in regulatory policy James L. Gattuso explained that “Erasing these rules is by no means easy” because the FCC “must eliminate the rules in a such way that will stand up to court review” while “minimiz[ing] the ability of a future FCC to simply reimpose them.” Gattuso added that new chairman Ajit Pai is “ready to go”:

“This state of affairs makes the news from the Federal Communications Commission especially noteworthy. Rather than install a neophyte to the job, President Trump in January tapped a sitting FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, as the new chairman. Pai has been on the commission since 2012, serving as one of two Republican members of the FCC. His appointment avoided the typical pitfalls for two reasons. First, it required no immediate Senate confirmation, because he was already on the commission. Second, and more importantly, Pai did not need any on-the-job training—he was ready to go on day one.”

Related:
Heritage: New FCC Chairman Takes Weed Whacker to Regulation (2017)
Heritage: Time to hit ‘delete’ on net neutrality (2015)
Heritage: Net Neutrality: Reining in Innovation (2015)