WSJ warns FCC: Stronger Internet rules would be ‘ObamaCare for the Web’

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is warning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to expand its regulatory power over the Internet.

As the FCC attempts to rewrite its rules that keep Internet providers from discriminating against traffic online, it should not go forward with one proposal that would expand the agency’s authority over the Internet, the board said in an editorial published late on Thursday.

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In the editorial, the board compared the proposed stricter net neutrality rules to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“Think of this as ObamaCare for the Web,” the board wrote.

The editorial comes after the commission voted Thursday to move ahead with a proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that would allow Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon to charge websites like Netflix for better access to users.

In response to the backlash he received over his plan to allow “fast lanes,” Wheeler revised his proposal to more seriously consider writing stronger net neutrality rules, including by reclassifying Internet providers to treat them like the more heavily regulated phone companies.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board, joining Internet providers and Congressional Republicans, called reclassification the wrong approach.

Treating Internet providers like phone companies would “automatically impose myriad obligations that have nothing to do with current customer needs — and that many modern firms could not possibly fulfill,” the editorial said.

As a result, the agency “would then have to issue a flurry of exemptions … to prevent chaos in the market for Internet connections.”

Like ObamaCare, the stricter approach to net neutrality would “enact an unworkable system and then get busy issuing waivers to prevent the new system from operating as designed,” the editorial board wrote.