US Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) yesterday filed what his press release called “bipartisan legislation to keep [the] Internet open [and] accessible.” What the bill actually would do is prevent the Federal Communications Commission from applying common carrier rules to Internet service providers, a step the FCC appears likely to take next month.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler may propose reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers to be regulated by Title II of the Communications Act. The move would let the FCC impose net neutrality rules that restrict ISPs’ ability to block, throttle, or prioritize Internet content in exchange for payment, but industry groups argue it will expose telecoms to stricter rules and impose new fees and taxes on consumers.
“The FCC’s plans to reclassify broadband under Title II are misguided,” Latta said in his announcement. “Imposing monopoly-era telephone rules on a 21st Century industry that has thrived under the current light-touch regulatory framework will undoubtedly impede the economic growth and innovation that have resulted in the broadband marketplace absent government interference. These businesses thrive on dynamism and the ability to evolve quickly to shifting market and consumer forces. Subjecting them to bureaucratic red tape won’t promote innovation, consumer welfare, or the economy. My legislation provides the certainty needed for continued investment in broadband networks and services that have been fundamental for job creation, productivity, and consumer choice.”
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