Rep. Latta Urges Congress To 'Preserve An Open & Free Internet' By Preventing The FCC From Doing So

from the your-ideas-are-intriguing-to-me-and-i-wish-to-subscribe-to-your-newsletter dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about Rep. Bob Latta — whose campaigns have been bankrolled by basically every big broadband player — introducing laughably misleading legislation designed to block the FCC from putting in place net neutrality rules. As we noted at the time, nearly every claim that Latta made in his announcement about the legislation was flat out false. Laughably so. The worst was just the fact that he argued that his bill — which would directly block the FCC from putting in place rules that would keep the internet “open and free” is described as legislation that would “ensure the internet remains open and free.” He’s not just co-opting the language of the other side, he’s making a mockery of it.

And, apparently, having been called out on spewing pure bullshit, he’s not backing down. On Monday he sent out a “Dear Colleague” email to all other members of the House, asking them to co-sponsor his legislation (HR 4752), once again claiming that it was necessary to “preserve a free and open internet.”

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in becoming a co-sponsor of H.R. 4752, a bill to limit the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over providers of broadband Internet access service.

As you know, the Internet has flourished under a light-touch regulatory framework that has long governed its operation and functionality. However, the FCC is considering reclassifying broadband from an information service to a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act and regulating it using laws based on the monopoly telephone era of the 1930s. This proposal would go against the FCC?s long-standing precedent on broadband classification and stall the growth and innovation we?ve seen over the past two decades. Reclassification would add unnecessary regulation on broadband providers and restrict their flexibility to innovate and stunt their ability to make robust investments.

H.R. 4752 would prevent the FCC from regulating broadband Internet access as a Title II service, which would ultimately benefit consumers by providing the certainty that Internet Service Providers need to continue investing in expansive broadband networks without fear of excessive regulation. Most importantly, it would uphold the very regulatory structure that has enabled the Internet to remain open and free.

Once again, almost everything stated here is wrong or misleading. First of all, cable was only classified under Title I as an information service as of 2002 and DSL as of 2005. Before that, DSL especially was recognized as being classified under Title II as a common carrier service and had its highest levels of investment prior to the FCC decision to go with Title I, rather than Title II. So arguing either that there is “long-standing precedent” or that the “past two decades” of internet growth and investment is due to Title I, rather than Title II, is flat out false. It’s a lie. Congressional Reps shouldn’t be allowed to get away with lying, even if they do so regularly.

Second, it’s a flat out lie to claim that the current “regulatory structure” is what “has enable the Internet to remain open and free.” Nothing of the sort is true. In fact, the big broadband players for years have been threatening to put up tollbooths and to break with the past concerning the open and free internet. AT&T’s Ed Whitacre kicked it all off back in 2005 by saying he wanted big successful companies like Google to pay him extra to be able to reach his users. The only thing that has stopped that from happening has been the ongoing effort by the FCC to block any such attempt with a variety of net neutrality rules. And, yes, the courts have struck down the FCC’s previous attempts, but to argue that the existing regulatory structure stopped the big broadband players from putting up tollbooths on the internet is clearly wrong.

Finally, there’s nothing in his bill that would actually encourage an “open and free internet,” nor does Rep. Latta (or his financial backers) actually want that. They want the reverse. They want a lack of barriers or rules from the FCC so they can break the open internet, allowing them to put up tollbooths that charge successful companies (like Netflix, Google and others) extra just to reach their end users, because they know they have terminating access monopolies, and as such can act as gatekeepers.

There are real debates to be had about the rules and the authorities that the FCC is looking at using. But that’s not what Rep. Latta is doing. He’s cynically trying to block the FCC from doing anything meaningful on protecting an open and free internet, while pretending that his solution (let the broadband guys do whatever the hell they want) will magically keep the internet free and open even as those very same broadband players have made it clear they would like nothing more than to end the open and free nature of the internet, so they can charge more and block out competition.

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Comments on “Rep. Latta Urges Congress To 'Preserve An Open & Free Internet' By Preventing The FCC From Doing So”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Self-interest and a lack of spine

If politicians started calling each other out on their lies, then they wouldn’t have time for anything else. Not to mention if politician A calls out politician B on a lie, then politician B will feel free to call out any lies politician A makes, so self-interest comes into play as well.

As for others, like the ‘news’ doing so, yeah, good luck with that one. They’ll hammer a politician that they disagree with all day long, but noting that someone in politics lied? Almost never, as that would take spine, integrity, and an interest in presenting the unbiased truth, and they have none of those.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Self-interest and a lack of spine

More likely it is so they can each keep their lies straight. You don’t think they tell the same lies to everyone do you?

Obviously there is a black budget Congressional Department of Scheduled Lies (CDSL) that helps our legislators keep track of what lies were told to whom, and when, and which are public and which are private, and even which hold some truth. You know, straight.

In terms of lying to other legislators, it is considered public, which in Congressional political terms means ignored.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Self-interest and a lack of spine

But shouldn’t those ignored lies be some kind of a point at an election? I mean the public, we, are used to getting lied to before elections. “I am going to do this and that which will bring you more of that” but shouldn’t the politicians at least be honest once they are elected? Or am I wrong and the whole “pre election” stretches into the “after election” part? If it does then the whole of politics is kind of…excuse my language… fucked.

rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Self-interest and a lack of spine

What we need is a peoples coordinated “super election” were all of us can vote out any present holder of office and the runner-up in the general elections take their office having been validated simply by receiving the second largest number of popular votes. This should occur every two years. This would certainly be more agreeable than violence.

We should also be able to invalidate laws in their entirety. The free people are loosing the race via corrupt control and an increasingly counter-productive political landscape bent on party controls and pocket lining alliances. Both houses of Congress have shit on the floor and it’s ceiling high within the departments of the executive – so we need a people’s policy line item veto there too. Oh yeah, and better broadband service all around, starting with TII.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Self-interest and a lack of spine

Concerning your every two year super election idea, the entire House of Representatives is elected on a two year cycle. Senators serve staggered six year terms and the President is elected every four years. We already, as a nation, vote for the entire House and one-third of the Senate every two years. I don’t think adding the other two-thirds of the Senate and the President to that cycle would help much at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Screw the FCC and titleII. Just let the ISPs have their way and let’s see what comes next. My guess would be that “successful companies (like Netflix, Google and others)” just build their own internet which charges other ISPs to access it. Then the first ISPs sue the 2nd ISPs because free market and unfair and just because.

What I ask myself is what would happen if those internet companies advertise a certain ISP? Something like with ISP x you have the best connection to us. Would people switch to that ISP? I mean people don’t want the internet because the ISP is great but because they want access to the content so what happens if the content puts itself above the ISP in a manor of speaking?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My guess would be that “successful companies (like Netflix, Google and others)” just build their own internet which charges other ISPs to access it.

By and large the incumbents have got that covered, by local laws which prevent competition entering the market. The few exceptions are not enough to really matter, and would cause their customers to hate them… but that is no problem as they already do and their complaints are being ignored.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“My guess would be that “successful companies (like Netflix, Google and others)” just build their own internet which charges other ISPs to access it.”

Nobody can “build their own internet”. Regardless, though, without Title II, it would be nearly impossible for a company to do what you suggest on a widespread scale. Google is the only one who even has a shot, because they bought all that dark fiber years ago, but it would be a really tough project even for them and would take a very long time.

“Something like with ISP x you have the best connection to us. Would people switch to that ISP?”

Seems unlikely, but who knows? I know that I would take that as a bad sign — a sign that I should stop using the service doing such a thing. Much like when a web page is “best with IE/Firefox/whatever” is a strong sign that I shouldn’t bother with the web site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Response from my Senator

So I thought I would be an upstanding citizen and send an e-mail to my Senator (Ron Johnson) regarding his position (opposition) to net neutrality. Below is the response I got:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of net neutrality.

On May 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its net neutrality Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a communications utility.

Leading up to the NPRM, the public discussion has focused on the need to have an open internet while at the same time the need to reclassify broadband services as Title II telecommunications services, making them subject to countless new government regulations. This conversation is irrational. There has been a concerted effort by outside groups that want sweeping government regulation to connect the need for an open Internet with the supposed need to reclassify broadband Internet access services as Title II telecommunications services subject to common carrier regulation. The future of the open Internet has nothing to do with Title II regulation, and Title II has nothing to do with the open Internet. The discussion should not focus on increasing regulation, but rather on if there is a need for any regulation at all.

The term “net neutrality” might sound good, but it is just a clever name for government control of the internet. If the government were to control the internet through FCC regulations, the overall result would be bad news not just for consumers but also for the economy as a whole.

The FCC should respect its regulatory limits and Congress should do its job to address these concerns. In the meantime, any policy adopted by the FCC should continue to respect the ‘light touch’ regime that has led to industry investment and a thriving Internet ecosystem.

Thank you again for contacting my office. It is very helpful to hear the views of the constituents that I serve. To date, my office has received more than 1,300,000 letters, emails, and phone calls. My mission is to provide information to as many people as possible concerning the enormous financial and cultural challenges facing America.

Please see my website at for additional information. It is an honor representing you and all the people of Wisconsin.


Ron Johnson
United States Senator

Anonymous Coward says:

When Bob Latta and others of the same mold, talk about an open and free internet, they are talking about being free to openly rape and pillage the general population at will with no repercussions.

When the majority of people talk about an open and free internet they obviously are talking about something completely different.

One side of Net Neutrality wants to be free to fuck everybody and the other side want to be free of being fucked – and they use the same words to describe what they are after.

billybroadband (profile) says:


I know this is a non-popular opinion on this website, but your assertions are belied by the facts. The fact is that investment in broadband infrastructure in this country HAS flourished under a light touch regulatory scheme for the past decade or more. When first introduced by cable, the “blazing fast speed” was 1.5 mbps; most flagship tiers are around 50 or 60 mbps now. And the price per megabit has been on a downward graph ever since it was introduced. So you get more for less. And to use Ed Whitacre’s comment from years ago as an indicator of the prevailing philosophy of modern ISPs again ignores reality; the business model has evolved, but not in any nefarious way at all. I agree that the broadband model is very complex and is not easily boiled down to a pithy soundbite about “keep the internet free”, etc. but the fact is that the broadband industry has NOT had a history of blocking sites or discriminating against content providers. Netflix is a unique situation simply because they want the ISPs to do their heavy lifting for them which is the OPPOSITE of the way peering relationship have evolved. And Netflix has been savvy enought to tie their public relations statements to the “net neutrality” catchphrase even though net neutrality isn’t close to capturing their business relationship with CDNs and ISPs. I know it won’t be popular here, but the legislator you castigate actually has it right.

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