The White House on Thursday said legislation was not necessary to settle so-called “net neutrality” rules because the Federal Communications Commission had the authority to write them.
Republicans in Congress are trying to drum up support for a bill that would counter the FCC’s upcoming new rules. “In terms of legislation, we don’t believe it’s necessary given that the FCC has the authorities that it needs under Title II.
Obama has urged the FCC to regulate ISPs more strictly under a section of communications law known as Title II, which would treat them more like public utilities. Broadband companies adamantly oppose the plan, saying the added regulatory burden would reduce investment and stifle innovation.
Some Republicans have also sought a delay in the FCC’s vote to establish new net neutrality rules, now planned for Feb. 26.
“Chairman Wheeler believes it is important to move forward as quickly as possible to protect consumers, innovation and competition online,” FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart said in a statement.
In a related story:
GOP makes U-turn on net neutrality
Republicans in Congress are doing a 180 on net neutrality as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to issue new rules within weeks.
For years, GOP lawmakers have adamantly opposed any rules requiring Internet service providers to treat all Web traffic equally, calling them unnecessary and an example of Washington overreach.
But now that the FCC is moving toward issuing a tough net neutrality order that would subject broadband to utility-style regulation — an approach endorsed by President Barack Obama — top Republicans in both chambers are making plans to legislate their own rules to ensure the agency doesn’t go too far.“Times have changed,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the House telecom subcommittee, said when asked about the evolving GOP position on net neutrality. “The administration has latched onto this [utility-style regulation], and the FCC’s independence is nominal at best.”
According to Walden, the Republican bill — which “is ready” and will be released in the coming days — “gives the protections that the president and FCC say they want, and does it in a legally sustainable way.”
When a federal appeals court last year threw out the FCC’s previous attempt at net neutrality rules, Walden and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) called the court decision “a victory for jobs and innovation … by keeping the government’s hands off the Internet” and preventing the government “from playing the role of traffic cop.”
Clearly, a lot has changed in the Internet policy debate in the past year, shifting the political calculus.
“Millions of people and businesses have stood up and once again made clear that they want to keep the same rights they’ve always had,” said Matt Wood, policy director of Free Press. “Self-identified conservatives, just like everyone else, overwhelmingly support keeping the rules that have kept the Internet open.”