TechFreedom and ICLE Urge FCC to Maintain Bipartisan Consensus Against Title II

In reply comments on the FCC’s proposed Internet rules, TechFreedom and the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE) urged the Commission to not impose common carrier regulations on the Internet through Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The comments debunk three key myths about Title II and call for the FCC to base any new rules it issues under Section 706 of the Act. The organizations also urge the FCC to ask Congress to provide clearer, narrower legislative authority over Net Neutrality, and call for a multistakeholder process to address the issue, regardless of what the FCC or Congress does.

The filing echoes the sentiments of a diverse coalition of web entrepreneurs, investors, telecom and antitrust experts, and policy organizations who wrote yesterday to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urging him to not invoke Title II.

“Title II is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. “A radical fringe has dressed up a government takeover of the Internet as ‘Net Neutrality.’ Google, Facebook, and the NAACP haven’t jumped on the Title II bandwagon, because they know better. Imposing public utility regulations on the Internet won’t create Net Neutrality, but the heavy hand of government will crush innovation and investment in broadband.”

“If the FCC wants to enforce Net Neutrality, it should, for now, use the broad powers it has granted itself under Section 706 of the ‘96 Telecom Act, said Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law and Economics. “Subjecting broadband to Title II would not even allow the FCC to do the one thing that most Net Neutrality supporters want: banning ‘paid prioritization.’ On the contrary, ‘reclassifying’ broadband under Title II would require the FCC not merely to authorize paid prioritization, but to set tariffed prices for it!”

A bipartisan consensus has long held that the ‘96 Act is woefully outdated, and today’s regulatory uncertainty could easily be cleared up with new legislation. “The single most remarkable fact about the decade-long debate over Net Neutrality is that the FCC has never formally requested specific legislative authority,” continued Szoka. “With a stroke of the President’s pen, the endless battle over the FCC’s authority in this area could end. Congress must establish clear authority for the FCC on Net Neutrality, so that companies have the regulatory clarity needed to invest and innovate.  But even without legislation, the FCC could bring telcos, content providers, and the public to the table for a multistakeholder process to hash out these issues. The multistakeholder process, championed by the White House as the best model for Internet governance, remains the road not taken on Net Neutrality.”

Visit DontBreakThe.Net to read about or join our campaign against Title II. The website directs comments to the FCC and debunks several myths about the benefits of a government takeover of the Internet.

Find/share this release on Facebook or Twitter, and see TechFreedom and ICLE’s other work on Title II and Net Neutrality, especially: