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Republican Internet Freedom Act Could Block FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

Republican Internet Freedom Act Could Block FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

Republicans reintroduce the Internet Freedom Act, which would block the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet as a utility.


This article originally appeared at The WHIR

While the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to give itself new powers to enforce net neutrality rules, Republicans have reintroduced the Internet Freedom Act, which would block the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet as a utility.

House Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) stated this week that she reintroducedthe Internet Freedom Act (PDF) in an attempt “to block the Obama Administration’s efforts to take over the Internet” through newly introduced Net Neutrality regulations. It now has 31 Republican co-sponsors.

According to the legislation text, the Internet Freedom Act aims “to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and from imposing certain regulations on providers of such service.”

The policy to classify broadband providers as Title II utilities was put forth by FCC Chairman Wheeler early this year and voted on last week. It was largely championed by internet activists and also in line with President Barack Obama’s official net neutrality stance, spurring speculation that the executive branch might have ordered the FCC to adopt these measures.

Blackburn said in a statement, “Last week’s vote by the FCC to regulate the Internet like a 1930s era public utility is further proof that the Obama Administration will stop at nothing in their efforts to control the Internet. There is nothing ‘free and open’ about this heavy-handed approach. These overreaching rules will stifle innovation, restrict freedoms, and lead to billions of dollars in new fees and taxes for American consumers.

“Once the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all. My legislation will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations.”

While there are several unknown aspects of the FCC’s plan around fines and procedures, it is clear that the style of FCC net neutrality enforcement would be aimed at making sure that all content has the same exact priority at a network level, contrary to what Blackburn stated.

Ars Technica suggests that Internet Service Providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have donated significant campaign funds to Blackburn, and that she could be advocating for these companies which stand to lose considerable money by not being able to charge to prioritize data flowing through their networks. Blackburn also filed legislation last week to overturn the FCC’s decision last week to preempt state lawsrestricting municipal broadband projects.

However, this stance against furthering the FCC’s oversight also corresponds to the Republican ideology of protecting free enterprise. Squaring net neutrality and free markets, Republicans proposed a version of net neutrality in January that wouldn’t include the FCC getting new authority.

As well, factoring in the fact that the FCC’s new authority could face court challenges, there are still many hurdles around putting through net neutrality regulations, and getting those regulations right.

This article originally appeared at

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