WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, in an op-ed for Reuters, Senator John Thune and Congressman Fred Upton announced plans to pursue a public process for bipartisan legislation that would protect the open Internet. TechFreedom President Berin Szoka offered the following comment:

We have two choices. Either the FCC can take its chances with reclassification and the net neutrality fight will drag on for many more years, or Congress can pass legislation that clearly gives the FCC narrow authority to address the President’s core concerns. Key Congressional Democratic leaders seem to understand this. Sen. Bill Nelson’s been talking about the need for a “Title X” since November. Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Senator Pat Leahy have introduced legislation that provides an alternative to Title II.


Preventing the FCC from gaining broader control over the Internet means taking Title II off the table — and thus preventing billions in new taxes and years of uncertainty facing broadband providers and other web companies that might get roped into Title II. Congress must also make crystal clear that it never intended Section 706 as a blank check for the FCC to regulate anything it claims somehow “promotes broadband deployment.”


Congress needs time to explore Thune and Upton’s proposal. Congressional Democrats are clearly interested, but it will be difficult for them to negotiate with Republicans if the FCC moves forward with new rules in February, as Chairman Wheeler says he will do. Thus far, Wheeler has run roughshod over Republicans at the Commission, refusing even to put key items up for a vote. He should remember his promise to Senator Thune at his confirmation hearing: if the FCC’s rules were struck down in court, as they were, he would go “to Congress for more direction before attempting another iteration.”


The FCC, supposedly a collegial, multi-member independent agency, has become increasingly both undemocratic and subservient, an Imperial Chairmanship within an Imperial Presidency. This is largely because Net neutrality has become, for the extreme Left, pure political theatre. That needs to stop so realists on both sides of the aisle can craft a compromise that puts this divisive issue behind us. Only then can Congress and the FCC move on to important matters like removing real barriers to broadband deployment and updating the Communications Act for the digital age.

Szoka can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org, and see more of our work on net neutrality and Title II, including: