Stop government from regulating the Internet

It was only a few years ago that talking with people over the telephone while simultaneously seeing their faces on a screen was something that would seem to remain in the distant future. Now we have programs like Skype that allow consumers to do just that. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is attempting to fix a problem that isn’t broken. It has moved to place the Internet under their jurisdictional umbrella despite past commissions, Congress and the courts indicating that the Internet is an information service and therefore not regulated by the FCC.

On December 21, the FCC released a press statement announcing its move to regulate the Internet. It stated: “The Internet has thrived because of its freedom and openness — the absence of any gatekeeper blocking lawful uses of the network or picking winners and losers online.”

Mr. Chairman, with this order, aren’t you merely making the government the gatekeeper? The order regulates Internet Service Providers, but content providers are left untouched. Implementation of this order will provide no incentives for businesses to work out their disputes. I can tell you, there won’t be any incentives to resolve disputes because the FCC -- the new “gatekeeper” -- just picked the winner and the loser.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which I am a member, will hold a hearing today on Internet regulation.

The administration would like Americans to believe that it is in their best interests to regulate the Internet, but look at how its takeover of other industries has worked out. Prices and taxes have increased while services and quality decrease and we cannot seem to climb out from underneath the debt we have amassed. 

Competition in the private sector has been the key to the web’s success. Consumers have multiple providers from which to choose, so providers have been forced to reduce costs while investing billions in developing their systems to stay ahead of the competition.

The National Broadband Plan proposed by the administration was to ensure that every American has access to the web.

The fact is we have more enhanced and faster service than we did two years ago. In another two years, multiple large providers have announced wide deployment of 4G throughout the nation. Local libraries throughout the country offer Internet access, and there are multiple service providers that allow people access from cafes and coffee houses. We are connected. 

Without competition and imposing government regulation, the reality is that consumers would have no access to faster speeds or purchasing new features that would surely be in demand.

With government regulation, who knows whether YouTube or Facebook would be around today? Today we can find the information that we need almost instantaneously, and we can shop for products with more choices than ever before.

Employment opportunities are also at stake. Uncertainty in the market will lead to stagnate development; in a time of recession, the government needs to lift regulations that impede job growth, not create new barriers. 

The Internet will continue to thrive in the private sector and not under what will surely become untold Washington mandates and taxes if regulated by Washington bureaucrats.

Congressman Mike Rogers represents Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District.