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A bipartisan consensus has long held that the ‘96 Act is woefully outdated, and today’s regulatory uncertainty could easily be cleared up with new legislation.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.
- “Net Neutrality’s hollow promise to startups,” an op-ed by Geoffrey Manne and Berin Szoka in Computerworld
- TechFreedom and ICLE’s legal and policy comments to the FCC on Net Neutrality (and highlights of both)
- “Understanding Net(flix) Neutrality,” an op-ed by Geoffrey Manne in the Detroit News on Netflix’s strategy to confuse interconnection costs with neutrality issues
- “The Feds Lost on Net Neutrality, But Won Control of the Internet,” an op-ed by Berin Szoka and Geoffrey Manne in Wired.com
- “Dear Chairman Wheeler, Don’t Break The Net!”, TechFreedom statement on launch of DontBreakThe.Net
- “That startup investors’ letter on Net Neutrality is a revealing look at what the debate is really about,” a post by Geoffrey Manne in Truth on the Market
- “Bipartisan Consensus: Rewrite of ‘96 Telecom Act is Long Overdue,” a post on TF’s blog highlighting the key points from TechFreedom and ICLE’s joint comments on updating the Communications Act