The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

A Continued Push for Net Neutrality

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Proponents of net neutrality are once again working towards imposing net neutrality rules and regulations over the Internet.  The Internet has thrived in an open and competitive market to become a vital part of society and the global economy.  There has been incredible growth in both the speed and quality of the web, largely because the government has resisted onerous regulations.

On January 14, 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decided that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could not regulate the Internet as a common carrier telecommunications service.  In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated that he would not do anything that would interfere with the evolution of the Internet, and several major Internet service providers (ISPs), including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon committed to providing an open Internet structure to their customers and bring faster bandwidth to allow for larger file and video sharing over their networks.

But the pressure is mounting from net neutrality proponents for the FCC to take action to regain control over the Internet.  Following up on a January 22, 2013 promise she made to introduce legislation if the net neutrality rules were overturned, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) joined Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in introducing H.R. 3982, the Open Internet Preservation Act, which would reinstate the rules until such time as the FCC takes new final action on the net neutrality rules.  On February 10, 2014, five U.S. Senators sent an open letter to Chairman Wheeler, urging him to quickly adopt enforceable rules to prevent blocking and discrimination of Internet traffic.

On February 18, 2014, the White House responded to an online petition calling for the administration to order the FCC to re-classify the Internet as a common carrier service.  Re-affirming the President’s commitment to net neutrality, the response indicated that it was encouraging to hear major broadband providers assert their commitment to an open Internet, as well as that of FCC Chairman Wheeler, who announced on February 10, 2014 that he expects to have a new plan for pursuing the net neutrality issue ready soon.

The net neutrality rules struck down by the Sixth Circuit Court had provided the government with an additional means to micromanage the Internet by redefining it as a common carrier telecommunications service.  It is time to bring some commonsense back to the regulation of the communications industry, and stop trying to apply rules such as common carriage to information services like the Internet.

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