Today the FCC defied the courts, the Congress, and a clear national consensus in favor of an open Internet, when it claimed the authority to regulate the Internet and passed so-called Net Neutrality regulations.
On a 3-2 vote, FCC Democrats Mignon Clyburn, Michael Copps, and Chairman Julius Genachowski voted to pass not just new Net Neutrality regulations, but an entire “framework” for future government meddling online. Republicans Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker voted against the plan.
Reports are already circulating that at least one major industry firm will sue to overturn the illegal regulations, and of course Congressional Republicans will rightly rake the FCC over the coals next year. However that said, today’s result is a crippling defeat to the radicals. There weren’t three votes for a much larger power grab that the FCC could have attempted today.
Mike Wendy is right and this is not a good result from the FCC. The only good result would be freedom through a hands-off approach. But there truly were possibilities far worse than a Net Neutrality framework that leaves the wireless market relatively open, does not claim the authority to set price or content controls, and leaves open so-called paid prioritization.
The deck was stacked against us throughout this process. With no Congressional majority to work with this year, and an Obama-appointed FCC controlling the process, we might not have had any leverage at all were it not for winning the House in November. That Free Press and other extremists could not get the Title II Nuclear Option in this climate, shows just how much of a fringe group they actually are.
It should be fun to watch next year’s oversight hearings by incoming chairmen like Fred Upton and Darrell Issa, as well as the legislative steps taken by other outspoken Republicans like Marsha Blackburn.