The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

On Title II, Just Say No to FCC Overreach

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.


Back in the 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan had a slogan to go with her anti-drug campaign, "Just Say No."  Perhaps this same slogan should be used in the ongoing debate over the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) efforts on net neutrality and Title II reclassification of the Internet.

On November 10, 2014, the White House released a statement regarding the President's views on net neutrality.  By calling upon the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service, the President means to impose greater restrictions over an industry in an attempt to fix a problem that just doesn’t exist.  Under Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC would be placed squarely in the middle of Internet Service providers (ISPs) and their customers, injecting price controls and other burdensome restrictions currently imposed on land line telephone service, slowing investment in broadband across the country.

It is interesting that the President chose a week when Americans are focused on honoring their nation’s veterans to propose increasing government restrictions over the Internet, which has up to now been allowed to evolve and grow under a light regulatory regime.  These same veterans are using the Internet to find jobs, obtain health care benefits, and apply for educational benefits. In a couple of weeks, consumers across the country will be engaging in "Cyber Monday" to purchase holiday gifts online.  Because the Internet was free from these regulatory burdens it has flourished and grown to become the driving economic engine that it is today.  The President intends to hamstring the companies that provide this service with restrictive regulations dating back to the 1930s.

By asking the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a Title II service, the President is circumventing the duly elected Congress, which has already begun work on developing a much needed modernization of the Communications Act of 1934.  Such dramatic shifts and changes in the laws regulating communications or any other government reform initiative should be handled by the nation’s duly elected lawmaking body, not by an unelected commission of five individuals.

The President has unilaterally called upon the FCC to do Congress’ job.  Imposing a restrictive antiquated regulatory regime over the Internet will stymie innovation and harm the economy, and Internet service providers will be less able to improve services for consumers without first asking permission from the FCC under Title II.  Repeatedly over the past six years, the President has stated “We can’t wait.” Well in this instance, the FCC can and should wait.

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