From the red alert symbols being used by a number of politicians and their allies, you might have thought the internet would grind to a halt when the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order took effect on Monday. It didn’t.
The FCC’s December 2017 decision actually rolled back the agency’s 2015 assumption of heavy-handed Title II powers over internet service providers (ISPs) and reinstated a bipartisan framework that worked for decades. A tweet from the Heritage Foundation helped capture the situation this week: “It’s June 12. After all the left’s sky-is-falling rhetoric, #Y2K18 didn’t happen. Title II is gone and the internet is better off today than it was yesterday as a result.”
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) had a similar message. “Consumers need to know that today is not the end of the internet as we know it,” they said. “After repeated attempts to start good faith negotiations, it appears our Democratic colleagues are more interested in coming up with political slogans than legislative solutions. Congress should not politicize the future of the internet, and we will continue to work towards a bipartisan legislative fix to permanently protect consumers, innovation, and the open internet.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (D) had a different view. “Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC’s roll back of net neutrality, internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online,” she said. Notably, the 2015 Title II order only applied to ISPs, not edge providers like Google, Facebook, and other such platforms.
For his part, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (R) stated in a CNET op-ed, “The bottom line is that our regulatory framework will both protect the free and open internet and deliver more digital opportunity to more Americans. It's worked before and it will work again.”
When the FCC approved its “Restoring Internet Freedom” order, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, commended the agency and said, “While the previous administration’s executive power play is not the answer, there are indeed valid concerns about blocking and other forms of discrimination online.”
Johnson added, “Now that the FCC has appropriately reversed course, I urge the people’s representatives in Congress to take a closer look at issues like viewpoint censorship by holding hearings that survey the practices of powerful players across the entire internet ecosystem, including seemingly ubiquitous edge provider platforms.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: June 15, 2018