In a 3-2 vote on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the new open Internet proposal that rolled back the 2015 Title II regulatory regime. While opponents have gone to hysterical lengths to misrepresent and denigrate the FCC’s proposal, the future for the Internet has never been brighter.
What happened at the FCC has been called “net neutrality repeal,” which is not quite right. The 2015 rules installed by the Obama FCC reclassified Internet services under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, installing an archaic set of rules for a medium that didn’t exist and wasn’t even foreseen in 1934. For most of the Internet’s existence, the principles of net neutrality have been adhered to without the Title II regulatory regime. This week hasn’t changed that.
What will happen now is that the regulatory regime that governed the development of the Internet will be put back in place. Anticompetitive practices from /internet service providers were adjudicated by the Federal Trade Commission before the Title II regime was put into place. Some of the net neutrality violations cited as dangerous by Title II proponents were resolved with FTC pressure.
Indeed, the FTC and the FCC have both already announced they will cooperate on Internet regulatory practices, in particular with regard to violations of net neutrality. Internet service providers that violate net neutrality principles will invite higher scrutiny from these regulatory bodies and risk “targeted action,” as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced. Additionally, Pai has created new rules that any Internet provider that engages in blocking or throttling behavior must be revealed to the public, and if their actions are anticompetitive, will mean fast FTC action.
The principles of net neutrality have survived today; the only thing that has changed is that the FCC removed the onerous, outdated regulations that defined the Internet for the last two years and plummeted investment and innovation.
Congress can take further action to preserve the principles of net neutrality. The Title II regime is archaic and ill-fit for the modern Internet, but Congress can write rules that make sense for a thriving 21st-century telecommunications industry. Policymakers from across the spectrum have endorsed this, from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. There’s bipartisan support for strong protections for net neutrality, and while the FCC’s move this week was a step in the right direction, Congress can secure a fair and open Internet for all, for good.
Kevin Glass (@KevinWGlass) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. Previously he was director of outreach and policy at The Franklin Center and managing editor at Townhall. His views here are his own.
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