Bringing Freedom Back to the Internet

By Sen. Mike Lee | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, February 25, 2016 | Go to article overview

Bringing Freedom Back to the Internet


Sen. Mike Lee, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


A year ago today, five unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to exploit an 80-year-old law meant for regulating radio, telephone, and telegraph operations, in order to begin regulating the Internet.

As unprecedented a step as this was, it was not the first time FCC bureaucrats attempted a takeover of the Internet.

More than five years ago, the FCC released its Open Internet Order of 2010, a set of new regulations designed to appease so- called "net neutrality" activists who had been fighting for more government control over the Internet.

But Americans fought back --and they won. The Internet service providers challenged the new FCC regulations in federal court, arguing that Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 did not give the FCC the authority to implement net neutrality regulations. And in 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision holding that the FCC had exceeded its authority to regulate Internet providers as "information services" under Title I.

Undeterred, and forever striving to expand their powers, the bureaucrats at the FCC did not give up. The next year they released their Open Internet Order of 2015, this time reclassifying Internet service providers as common carrier utilities, which is what AT&T was in 1934 when the federal Communications Act was first passed.

Back in the 1930s, it may have made sense for the FCC to protect consumers from a single company with monopoly control over an emerging communications technology. But we live in the 21st Century, and the Internet today is categorically different from telecommunications technology from the Great Depression era. Today, with numerous providers fighting over multiple platforms to offer consumers the best experience, the FCC's anachronistic approach will only stifle Internet-drive innovation, which will only hurt the consumers it claims to protect.

The truth is, the term "net neutrality" is deceptive: the notion that "all Internet data must be treated equally," as FCC supporters put it, is misguided from both a technical and an economic standpoint.

Some Internet traffic is very time-sensitive - think of Skyping your family or streaming a movie - while other traffic is not, like sending emails or general web browsing. This technical distinction points to the danger of a government regulatory regime that treats these different types of data as the same. …

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