House Republican unveils bill to limit FCC's net neutrality plans

 

A new House Republican bill would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from going forward with a proposal for stronger regulations on Internet service providers.

Late Wednesday, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) — vice chairman of the House Commerce subcommittee on communications — introduced a bill that would keep the FCC from reclassifying Internet providers to treat them more like traditional phone companies, which are heavily regulated.

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“The Internet has remained open and continues to be a powerful engine fueling private enterprise, economic growth and innovation absent government interference and obstruction,” Latta said in a statement announcing his bill.

Latta’s bill comes as the FCC attempts to rewrite its net neutrality rules, which kept Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to certain websites before they were struck down by a federal court earlier this year.

The FCC voted at its meeting this month to kick off the process of rewriting those rules under a proposal from Chairman Tom Wheeler that focuses on allowing Internet providers to charge for better access to users. But it also keeps open the possibility of reclassifying Internet providers to be more like phone companies.

“At a time when the Internet economy is thriving and driving robust productivity and economic growth, it is reckless to suggest, let alone adopt, policies that threaten its success,” Latta said.

“Reclassification would heap 80 years of regulatory baggage on broadband providers, restricting their flexibility to innovate and placing them at the mercy of a government agency.”

The cable industry threw its weight behind Latta’s bill.

In a statement, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association — which represents companies including Comcast, Cablevision, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable — praised the bill for codifying “current policy and to ensure that the Internet continues to grow and remains open and free from the burdens of outdated, public utility regulation.”

The group pointed to the “established a bipartisan consensus that a light regulatory touch provides the best path for ensuring that the Internet will become an engine of economic growth and social prosperity.”