In seeking to justify its net neutrality proposal, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) makes a number of reaching arguments, none of which would enhance consumer protections or make the internet a more free or open place. Some of these concerns deal with claims that a lack of internet regulation may lead internet service providers (ISPs) to block or throttle legal content or erect paid “fast” lanes for preferred users. Others deal with threats to national security and public safety despite the FCC already having sufficient power to address these concerns.
However, a favorite argument of the FCC is that a national standard for regulation is needed to maintain a free and open internet. As recently explained by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel during remarks to the National Press Club, Title II gives the FCC clear authority to serve as a “watchdog over the communications marketplace and look out for the public internet.” The FCC appears to believe that the internet, as it currently exists, is a lawless place that needs a sheriff to maintain order and protect consumers from those who would do them harm. However, this is not the case.
Consumers have better, faster, and more affordable internet service than ever before. They also enjoy more choices of services and regularly use broadband for everything from holiday shopping and virtual work meetings to communicating with loved ones living around the world.
Despite these benefits, the FCC believes establishing a uniform legal framework is needed to ensure a clear and consistent national standard. The FCC argues that the 2018 decision to reclassify broadband as a Tile I service and eliminate conduct rules opened the door to states creating net neutrality regulations.
Indeed, a handful of states have created their own open internet requirements through executive orders, legislation, and contracting policies. The FCC’s NPRM expresses concern that these differing requirements could “increase burdens for ISPs and hinder the greater broadband market.” Therefore, the Commission seeks Title II authority to establish a national framework over broadband internet access to preempt any inconsistent state requirements.
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Nate Scherer is a policy analyst with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit us atwww.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter (X) @ConsumerPal.