Yesterday, Congress voted to block a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiative to regulate the internet under the guise of “net neutrality.” Supporters of net neutrality will tell you the regulation is necessary to keep the Internet “free and open” and to prevent corporations from slowing down the internet. As explained by the Heritage Foundation, “in this doomsday, apocalyptic, dystopian future, only the FCC can save the day with more and more government regulations.”
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has filed comments with the FCC, as well as released a study entitled “Net Neutrality: Far From Neutral,” opposing the adoption in rule of the proposed principles. The principles are unneeded and, worse, will hinder the achievement of the very goals they are intended to promote. In fact, the current marketplace has fostered investment and innovation, protected users’ interests, and promoted competition, so there is no need for the FCC to step in and create burdensome regulation.
Importantly, the FCC doesn’t even have the legal authority to enact these regulations. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC’s attempt to regulate the Internet was outside the scope of its authority. That didn’t stop the FCC, though. It went ahead and issued new regulations anyhow.
As FCC commissioner Robert McDowell explains, “everybody wants an open Internet that enhances freedom, but that’s what we have today. We already have enough consumer protection laws on the books to cure many of the hypothesized fears (that some see). The goal should be to make the market more competitive. All we are going to do with this FCC decision is clog up the courts and increase billable hours for lawyers; litigation will supplant innovation.”
Yesterday’s House vote is a step in the right direction of blocking net neutrality rules and ensuring the continued success and innovation of the Internet.