updated 03:45 pm EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Proposed legislation would prohibit 'regulatory baggage' of Title II
Yesterday, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced legislation to limit the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) authority to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. The proposed legislation comes after the FCC released a proposal to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II as a telecommunications service rather than an information service if Internet Service Providers abuse permissions that the FCC may give to providers.
The possibility of Title II regulation is being held over the ISPs by FCC Chairman Wheeler. Wheeler is suggesting an independent ombudsman as part of Title II regulation to look into the ISPs should they act against the best interest of the public in all aspects of business, including implementation of the fast lane concept. Latta's proposal would strip the FCC of the ability to enforce Title II regulation on ISPs, and take most of the teeth out of FCC's ability to regulate ISP behavior, which does not generally rank high in customer satisfaction.
Latta in a statement about the legislation says that "at a time when the Internet economy is thriving and driving robust productivity and economic growth, it is reckless to suggest, let alone adopt, policies that threaten its success. Reclassification would heap 80 years of regulatory baggage on broadband providers, restricting their flexibility to innovate and placing them at the mercy of a government agency."
Lobbyist group for the Cable industry, The National Cable and Telecommunications Association agrees with the tenets of the bill, saying in its statement that it will "ensure that the Internet continues to grow and remains open and free from the burdens of outdated, public utility regulation." The NCTA believes that the status quo of "lightly regulating the Internet" has led to broadband providers investing more than $1.2 trillion in networks since the '90s.