Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is stepping up his criticism of President Obama’s plan to regulate the internet, warning that new rules will lead to the types of taxes and fees slapped on telephones and cable service.

“Under this new regulatory regime, Internet service providers will be subject to these fees as well, and then pass them on to you, the consumer,” said Lee. “This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on,” he added.

Lee’s warning comes in a new letter asking supporters to sign a petition demanding that the president withdraw his plans to reclassify the internet as a public utility. It follows other warnings from Lee on the issue.

In his latest, Lee compared the president’s action to Obamacare, the Veterans Affairs scandal and the IRS-Tea Party scandal. “These are just a few examples of what happens when we give government huge power without oversight,” he wrote in the letter, pasted below, that urges foes of so-called "net neutrality" to fight the administration.

His focus was on the potential for fees and taxes being passed on to users of internet services and the possibility that government regulation could lead to government censorship, as seen in countries like Iran and Russia.

“I am not accusing anyone of sinister motives here, but I am deeply concerned about the idea of any government bureaucrat having the power to tell companies what they can and cannot do. In the long term, this could have a chilling effect on political speech, in ways that today we could not even begin to imagine,” he wrote in a letter for the advocacy group Protect Internet Freedom.

Advocates, however, said the president's plan would not not amount to a federal takeover, and would prohibit broadband providers from slowing or blocking most Internet traffic, and preserve an open internet, and free speech.

From Lee:


Dear Friends,

Obamacare, the VA scandal, the IRS scandal--these are just a few examples of what happens when we give government huge power without oversight.

It's about to happen again--the Obama Administration is fighting for a government takeover of the Internet and the Federal Communications Commission is going to vote on it February 26th. That's why I am writing you today--I need your help to stop this.

President Obama came out a few weeks ago urging the FCC to vote to regulate the Internet the same way that it regulates public utilities under Title II. What this means is that, for the first time, billions of dollars in fees will be attached to Internet service just like they are to telephone service.

You see, under Title II if someone wants to own a telephone company, there are fees baked into the law--fees companies pass on to customers.

Now, under this new regulatory regime, Internet service providers will be subject to these fees as well, and then pass them on to you, the consumer.

This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.

The Internet is built on speed and dynamism, it’s always changing, there are always new and better ideas that are exploding onto the scene, and part of the reason for that is that innovators are not having to go ask Washington, D.C. for permission every time they want to do something new.

What this really comes down to is a fundamental question:

Who do you want in charge of the direction of the Internet: people at dot-com startups that brought us game changing companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Uber; or nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrats in our nation’s capital?

There is another aspect of this that gets overlooked: the Internet is an incredibly important force for freedom, for liberty, and the rights of free speech that we hold dear. It is an existential threat to tyrants in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia who seek to keep information from their people.

We must preserve the high ground for the United States to stand up to these countries and tell them to keep the Internet free and preserve free speech on the Internet throughout the world. We cannot do that if we are regulating the Internet in a similar manner ourselves.

I am not accusing anyone of sinister motives here, but I am deeply concerned about the idea of any government bureaucrat having the power to tell companies what they can and cannot do. In the long term, this could have a chilling effect on political speech, in ways that today we could not even begin to imagine.

We do not have much time left to stop this gigantic government takeover of the Internet. The FCC is voting on February 26th and the Left is mobilizing to support their effort to do so. We cannot let the conversation be totally one-sided. The FCC needs to hear from us today--not tomorrow or next week or next month. Today.

Please join me and go sign the petition to keep the Internet free. We must stand for liberty and preserve the Internet free of government interference.

Thank you for standing for Internet freedom.

Sincerely,

Senator Mike Lee

Republican-Utah

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.