Sohn, Downes, Glass to testify at Internet hearing — excerpts

The House Judiciary Intellectual Property subcommittee will hold a hearing on Tuesday examining the antitrust dimension of preserving an open Internet. Below are excerpts from the testimonies of the three witnesses. 

Brett Glass, who runs the small wireless company Lariat, warns of a wireless duopoly that would require constant oversight: "I urge Congress — which is the ultimate source of the FCC’s authority — to set things right. Rather than excessive regulation, which would extinguish small competitors like WISPs and create a duopoly requiring constant oversight, we should facilitate competition, crack down on anticompetitive tactics, and then allow markets to do the rest. Only by adopting this approach can we allow American small businesses to create jobs, innovate, and prosper while solving a very real problem: providing ubiquitous broadband access to our nation."

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, advocates against Congressional Review Act repeal of the FCC's net-neutrality rules: "Prior to the FCC's December decision, broadband Internet access providers recognized that anticompetitive actions would be subject to public scrutiny and that public outcry have prompted consumer focused responses by the FCC. However, enactment of a CRA repeal of the FCC's network neutrality rules would virtually eliminate the agency's authority to protect an open Internet and would not just repeal its recently enacted rules. As currently implemented, a CRA repeal would prohibit the federal agency from adopting the same or substantially similar rules until a new act of Congress was passed. This type of repeal would have the negative effect of hindering the FCC's ability to address any issue that touched on preservation of an open Internet, a necessary component to preserving competition in the Internet marketplace."

Larry Downes, senior fellow at TechFreedom, says the FCC did not have the authority to make net neutrality rules — but did it anyway: "The FCC lacked authority to issue the rules—and likely knew it. Despite promises that the agency’s 'very smart lawyers' had found jurisdictional support for the new rules beyond arguments rejected by the D.C. Circuit in its Comcast decision, the Report and Order largely repeated those arguments, offering only a slightly modified and unpersuasive reading of Section 706 of the Communications Act. The half-hearted effort suggests the agency has little expectation the rules will survive court challenges that have already begun, and issued the rules solely to get the messy proceedings off its docket."