DoJ does not believe it can enforce net neutrality, Waxman says

Justice Department officials do not believe they have the authority to enforce net neutrality principles under antitrust law, according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

Waxman said during a net neutrality hearing Wednesday that Justice officials informed his office that existing competition laws cannot be used to prevent cable and phone companies from blocking Web traffic. 

"DoJ told us that … antitrust does not stop a phone or cable company from blocking websites that don't pay for access," said Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. 

"According to DoJ, favoring websites that pay high fees and degrading websites that don't is perfectly legal under the antitrust laws as long as the phone or cable company isn't in direct competition with the websites being degraded."

Net neutrality opponents often argue that antitrust laws make it unnecessary to have regulations enforced by the FCC. The House Judiciary Committee explored the issue this year. 

Intellectual Property subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said he is considering legislation to tweak antirust law to address net neutrality concerns.