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Congressman Protests FCC Attempt to ‘Heap 80 Years of Regulatory Baggage’ on Broadband

By Josh Long
May 29, 2014 - News

Congressman Bob Latta this week introduced legislation to prevent the FCC from regulating the Internet under an old regime that he says would impose “monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations on the 21st Century broadband marketplace."

In its new proposal to oversee the Internet, the FCC said it is exploring its legal authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Latta’s bill would prevent the agency from reclassifying broadband Internet access under Title II as a telecommunications service.

The FCC previously has treated broadband as an information service, subjecting it to regulations that are distinct from a heavily regulated telecommunications regime that dates back to an era of utilities.  

“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," said Latta, an Ohio Republican, in a statement.

Sarah Criser, a spokeswoman for Latta, said the legislation does not have any co-sponsors at this time.

The bill excuses from the definition of “common carrier" the provider of an information service, which would include a broadband Internet access service. The FCC would be barred from treating a provider of an information service as a telecommunications carrier under the Communications Act.

“The Internet is a powerful engine for economic growth that has remained open, free, and accessible without government regulation since its entrance into the public sphere," Section 1 of the bill declared. “Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 was designed for the monopoly telephone system in 1934 and has its origins in 19th century shipping regulations. Imposing the obligations and requirements of Title II of such Act on broadband Internet access service would severely harm broadband investment and create myriad negative unintended consequences."

Other critics of Title II regulation include AT&T, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the ITTA, an organization that represents mid-sized telecommunications carriers.

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