Congress, don't let net neutrality debate fall victim to executive orders
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President Trump’s recent DACA decision is a case study in the consequences of writing law through executive order. If congressional leadership does not take action, then net neutrality will meet DACA’s same fate.

The stakes could not be higher for nearly a million people who face grave consequences if Congress, an institution with inefficiency built into its DNA, fails to deliver a lasting solution within the next six months. In 2012, then-President Obama created DACA out of frustration with Congress for failing to pass comprehensive reforms to America's immigration problems. Obama’s unilateral action created legal uncertainty and, due to the 2016 election outcome, has proven an unsustainable approach to addressing a real need.

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Castigating President Trump for ending DACA, as hundreds of tech CEOs recently did in a joint letter, is easy. Resuscitating Congress, the branch of government neglecting the vital role it must play in America’s democracy, is hard.

We need congressional action to resolve the ping-pong dynamic that has shaped net neutrality rules over the past decade. The last major legislative overhaul occurred in 1996, light-years ago given the rapid development of the modern internet. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, the fathers of the internet, weren’t even born when the Communications Act of 1934 became law.

Leaders in Congress must find a way to come together for a reasoned debate about a modern, lasting regulatory framework to effectively govern the internet.

However, the failure to create a bipartisan solution to preserving a free and open internet is not solely Congress’ fault. Last week, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on regulation of the internet, but no technology or telecommunications company committed to participate.

It is ironic that hundreds of tech leaders signed a letter calling on Congress to pass DACA legislation, but they balked when asked to attend a hearing to craft a much-needed legislative solution in their field — an area in which they hold crucial, captured and experiential knowledge.

The hypocrisy and posturing on all sides is flagrant.

Americans must demand that Congress provide pragmatic, bipartisan and sustainable solutions for DACA, net neutrality, and many other pressing issues confronting our country.

Tuesday, Lincoln Network will host an event in San Francisco on closing the digital divide with FCC Chairman Pai, and representatives from industry leaders like Google and Microsoft.

Protesters have announced plans to demonstrate outside of our event. They will express their discontent with the current FCC’s decision to review the Title II classification put in place during the previous administration. I will be joining these protestors to express a shared discontent with the status quo and implore Congress to do its job.  

Garrett Johnson is co-founder of Lincoln Network, a national community of technology professionals, and previously founded a Y Combinator-backed startup based in Silicon Valley.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.