On March 15 the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.J. Res. 37, a resolution of disapproval that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” regulations put forward last December but set to take effect in mid-2011.
The resolution is heading for a House vote tomorrow, April 7. It will face a steep climb in the Senate, but one that is not insurmountable.
The new rules have the FCC claiming jurisdiction over all the Internet as arbiters of how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) carry on business, from pricing to “blocking” and prioritizing traffic. The FCC placed themselves as sole authority for administering punishment for those who disregard the decrees of this august agency. Some of the details of the December regulations described as “high-level” have still not been made public but the “kill switch” claim for emergencies, and controlling all links between the United States and the rest of the world are expected along with a monitoring system for affordability and capacity purposes.
The problem with “net neutrality” is that so many take the term quite literally, believing the government just wants to keep the Internet a neutral medium and that the FCC is totally dedicated to, as its chairman has stated, protecting “the freedom and openness of the Internet.” But as we’ve come to know, whenever the government interferes, the result is a distorted and uncompetitive market and loss of individual freedoms.
The FCC is not tasked, as is Congress, with making laws. As with all things connected to big government -- consider the IRS, EPA, ObamaCare, FDA, etc., -- the FCC would become a regulatory law unto itself, a gigantic bureaucracy restricting freedom and ingenuity while stifling competition and harming broadband investment through price controls. The FCC is also supposed to be an independent agency with no oversight from the Obama Administration, but thanks to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that illusion has now been destroyed.
Rep. Issa cites White House records indicating FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski visited the White House 81 times from January 2009 to November 2010, an almost unheard number of visits, calling into question just who is determining the FCC’s agenda. One of those visits was four days before the oddly simultaneous announcement of the proposed “net neutrality” orders by both the White House and the FCC. Issa had asked in late 2009 for transparency in the matter of Genachowski's visits and the Obama administration's role in FCC policy. Genachowski was to provide a log of all the meetings and the emails between the White House and the FCC that took place for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Genachowski took until February 2011 to even respond to Rep. Issa and still has not furnished the requested information.
Because the Internet has become such an incredible force for alternative information and instant communication, it’s no wonder the government would want to have a hand in controlling it. Government oversight of the Internet would be a violation of the First Amendment if any limitations on the exchange of information occurs. The Internet has flourished exactly because our government has maintained a hands-off approach to it. That will change if the FCC’s power grab is not reversed.
Americans have come to depend on the Internet, so opposing a government takeover in this area is vital. There is no major cybersecurity threat that private enterprise cannot handle better than the government, nor are there any problems with Internet Service Providers that savvy consumers can’t cope with by switching companies.
With a vote expected in the House on April 7, please send your message to Congress immediately.