Last Friday, the FCC voted along party lines to approve Title II regulation for Internet Service Providers. This means -- absent lawsuits from Verizon and Comcast -- that the FCC would be able to enforce net neutrality regulations preventing ISPs from selectively throttling whatever traffic it wants and extorting content providers into expensive side-deals ("Nice streaming video service you've got there. It'd be a shame if it slowed down ...")
If you thought that the FCC was hurting poor, defenseless mega-corporations, then you've got a friend in Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn!
Corporations Need Freedom
Blackburn introduced a bill in the House, given the Orwellian name "Internet Freedom Act," that would explicitly nullify the FCC's February 26 rule classifying ISPs as common carriers and forbidding states from enforcing laws designed to prevent cities and municipalities from building their own broadband networks. It would also prohibit the FCC from adopting any similar rule in the future.
So what "freedom" is this legislation protecting? It prevents the Obama administration from taking over the Internet! Blackburn apparently honestly believes that "[o]nce the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks, they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all."
Got that? By preventing ISPs from arbitrarily slowing down traffic based on the content of that traffic, it's the government that's actually arbitrarily slowing down traffic. This will lead to a dystopian future, of course, in which the FCC orders ISPs to broadcast pro-Obama propaganda over its networks and block access to National Review.
Death panels. Prison camps. Hunger Games. "First, they came for the Rush 24/7 Members, and I didn't speak up ..."
I Don't Understand It, but I Know I Hate It
This is, however, just par for the course when it comes to some members of Congress apparently believing the FCC's decision gives the Obama administration control over the Internet. It's not their fault, of course; their brains have been turned to jelly thanks to campaign contributions from telecommunications company PACs.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, also a recipient of telecom bucks, said in November that "the Commission would be wise to reject" the net neutrality proposal. Sen. Ted Cruz also voiced his opposition, despite apparently not knowing what net neutrality is. Last November, he compared the FCC plan to "Obamacare" and said in a Washington Post op-ed that Title II regulation "would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices."
Even if that were true, the government could certainly do no worse than the combination of Comcast and Time Warner, which together have 36 percent of the broadband market share. (The runner-up, AT&T, has 18 percent.) It seems that a laissez-faire policy has already given us the limited choices Cruz feared would result from government regulation.