Update: Waxman is now using Republican opposition to this bill to claim the FCC should now implement the worst case of Internet regulation. Republicans need to get behind a reasonable compromise and we need to commit to outlawing Title II reclassification. The FCC going on its own would do incalculable damage to the industry going forward. Action is needed sooner, not later.
If you take one message from everything I write today on technology issues, take this one: House Republicans need to get on board and support Henry Waxman’s Net Neutrality bill. The bill urgently addresses the critical issue of the moment, and its passage would avert disastrous regulation of the Internet going forward.
As things stand on Net Neutrality, Barack Obama and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski are holding all of the cards. We can debate all we want about the legality or necessity of the FCC’s plans to unilaterally regulate the Internet and we can go to court later all we want but without new legislation we can’t stop them from trying it and doing the damage anyway.
The Waxman bill is that legislation, and I want every Republican to support this bill to stop the Obama administration from yet another end run around Constitutional process.
The most important thing the Waxman bill does is to expressly disallow the “deem and pass” reclassification of Internet service providers as telephone companies under Title II of the Communications act.
This is a critical reinforcement of the deregulating spirit of the Telecommunications Act, fundamentally limiting the amount of regulation that the FCC can apply to the Internet. The narrowly tailored new Net Neutrality rules that this bill allows are a molehill next to the mountain of powers that the FCC could claim under Title II reclassification.
The Internet in America is in serious risk of devastating regulatory asphyxiation should the FCC be allowed to proceed with Title II reclassification. The FCC promises “forbearance” of the full use of Title II powers should this happen, but the pressure is already being brought to bear on the FCC to use those (not yet claimed) powers to regulate so-called hate speech and other content online. And that’s just the beginning. When future debates come around, including the debate over a National Broadband Plan, I think we all know the FCC’s forbearance will go right down the memory hole.
Republicans in this case should not fear supporting this bill, and in fact must support it against the radical progressives, including the neo-Marxists at Free Press. This bill is a major check on the runaway FCC’s designs on Internet regulation. I cannot more strongly urge Leader Boehner, Ranking Member Barton, and the rest of the party to get behind this bill.