After President Obama issued a call for the FCC to ensure a neutral internet, Republican Senator Ted Cruz made a statement proclaiming net neutrality to be “Obamacare for the internet.” Now GOP members of the House and Senate have decided to use their new-found majority to put pressure on the FCC to not make any attempts to keep the internet open. They sent FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler an intimidating letter.
The fight is over whether telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T should be allowed to slow down or speed up the bandwidth of a website at will. Pro-net neutrality advocates say that speeds should be the same for everyone, be it a small business or Facebook. Anti-net neutrality advocates say that companies owning the fiber that connects you to the internet should have an advantage — so if only two websites can afford decent speeds, so be it.
The letter basically states that in order for the FCC to implement any form of net neutrality, it would have to classify the internet as a telecommunications service, and not an information service. Republicans are claiming that the language under Title II of the Communications Act forbids the US government from regulating the internet. They say that language “makes it US policy to ‘preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet… unfettered by Federal or State regulation.'”
What that argument ignores is that the vibrant and free market that presently exists for the internet is more than just a handful of telecom companies that want to strong-arm more money out of us. The free market on the internet includes everyone from Amazon.com to Aunt Charlene’s Etsy store.
But hey, this is the political party that advocated for corporate personhood and they did win the midterms, so we only have ourselves to blame.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)