Rep. Bob Latta achieved an impressive feat last week in introducing some legislation
, which he claims is to make sure the internet remains "open and free." While we're big supporters of an "open and free" internet, what's most amazing here is that almost everything that Latta claims about the bill is not true -- including the whole "open and free" bits.
Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) today introduced legislation to ensure the Internet remains open and free from government interference by limiting the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act.
So, first, he's saying "open and free" not in the way that internet users, innovators and entrepreneurs can set up businesses, but rather "open and free from government interference.
" This is, simply, bullshit. While I tend to lean on the "less regulation" side for many things, people claiming that net neutrality is a fight about "regulating the internet" are one (or more) of the following three things: (1) stupid (2) ignorant or (3) lying. The internet is already heavily regulated
. The question around net neutrality is not "do we regulate or leave unregulated" -- it's what type of regulation makes the most sense.
Remember, telcos are happy to be classified under Title II
for their fiber, because that's how they're able to get subsidized access to power poles and conduits (and the ability to dig up yards and bury new lines). They're also "regulated" in how they get spectrum for wireless communications. The broadband providers are thrilled
to be regulated in these ways because it has made it easier and cheaper to build their networks and
to keep out pesky competition.
The idea that broadband should be "open and free" from government interference is simply untrue. If the broadband providers really wanted that to be true, then they shouldn't be making use of rights of way access granted by the government. Somehow, I don't see Latta asking Verizon and AT&T to change that...
The legislation comes after the FCC released a proposal to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II as a telecommunications service rather than an information service.
Except, of course, the FCC did no such thing. It, in fact, released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
which explicitly does not
propose to reclassify broadband under Title II. It actually proposes to keep broadband as it was, preferring to put in place new rules under Section 706. The only thing on Title II is that, while making it clear the FCC is focused on Section 706, it asks the public to comment on
what it thinks of Title II as an alternative. To outright claim that the FCC has proposed reclassifying is blatantly false.
Isn't it great that Congressional Representatives flat out lie to the public?
“In light of the FCC initiating yet another attempt to regulate the Internet, upending long-standing precedent and imposing monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations on the 21st Century broadband marketplace, Congress must take action to put an end to this misguided regulatory proposal,” said Latta.
Except, again, the internet has always been regulated in some form, this request for comments has upended no long-standing precedent, and broadband providers have long made use of those very same "monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations" to get government subsidies to install their broadband infrastructure. Oh, and again, the proposal does not actually suggest what he claims it's suggesting.
So, both the reasons and the overall claim of the proposal are simply wrong. Who elected this guy?
“The Internet has remained open and continues to be a powerful engine fueling private enterprise, economic growth and innovation absent government interference and obstruction. My legislation will provide all participants in the Internet ecosystem the certainty they need to continue investing in broadband networks and services that have been fundamental for job creation, productivity and consumer choice.
Yes, the internet has remained mostly
open and is a powerful engine of private enterprise at the service level
by keeping the network level
free from discrimination. And the FCC claims to be looking for a way to keep that in place
, while the telcos who are supporting Latta's proposal are looking to do the exact opposite: to limit private enterprise by allowing the infrastructure players to discriminate against services they don't like. Latta's legislation does not provide "certainty" to anyone other than Verizon, AT&T and Comcast -- all of whom will get to double-charge and increase profits.
Instead, it will create massive uncertainty
for basically every other business that uses the internet. It will devastate investment into internet startups, because those with great new ideas will know that they'll have to pay extra just to reach people online. It will entrench big companies who already have the power to pay, while cutting off upstarts and innovators. It will take away the incentives for the big broadband providers to actually invest in infrastructure, because when their networks get clogged, they can charge more
to internet companies. That means, the US will fall even further behind on the internet.
It makes you wonder why Rep. Latta is so against small businesses and innovation.
Oh, no, there's no reason to wonder. We already know. Latta is bankrolled by the big broadband companies
with AT&T, NCTA, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, American Cable Assocation and Centurylink among his top campaign supporters
. Because, of course they are.
Yes, we know that politicians mislead the public, but this is to an egregious level. Nearly everything about the reasons, the intent and the impact of Latta's legislation are completely incorrect. There are reasonable
debates to be had about whether or not reclassifying broadband under Title II makes sense. But you won't get that from this bill. Thankfully, Latta can't find any other politician willing to co-sponsor his ridiculous bill, so it appears that even many other politicians heavily funded by the broadband companies recognize how totally dishonest this particular bill is.