An Open Internet Détente: How and Why Bipartisan Legislation Should End the Net Neutrality Wars
The United States has grappled for more than a decade with how to regulate Internet access, and the issue has become increasingly partisan as it has moved from an academic discussion and technocratic debate into the hands of the Federal Communications Commission under successive administrations. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently rescinded not just the Obama administration’s common carriage rules grounded in the Title II framework, but the entirety of FCC authority over broadband. These extreme swings in jurisdiction are bound to continue, with courts giving the FCC wide deference to interpret the ambiguous Communications Act.
Senate Democrats are now attempting to roll back the latest FCC action through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). But experts agree the CRA is not likely to pass nor would it likely be signed by President Trump, who supported the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order. What is more, the CRA would establish the deeply flawed Title II jurisdiction. Instead, it is past time to pursue real, bipartisan legislation.
Please join ITIF for an expert panel discussion about its latest report on why and how Congress should give the FCC clear authority to enforce basic bright-line rules and bring resolution to this debate. A legislative package would also present the opportunity to address a far more important broadband policy issue: the digital divide. Unfortunately, far more ink has been spilled over largely theoretical concerns of blocking, throttling, and prioritization than the concrete challenge of getting all Americans online. A package that puts good policy and real spending behind digital literacy, broadband adoption, and rural infrastructure and also ends the national embarrassment that is the ping-pong of broadband regulation, should be something everyone can get behind.