Jan 29, 2014

What impact will congressional opposition have on to FCC efforts to enforce net neutrality?

The FCC said that it wants to reclassify ISPs as common carriers so that it can enforce net neutrality rules. There is intense opposition to net neutrality by some in Congress, to the point that during the Federal Government shutdown a couple of months ago, some Congressmen demanded an end to net neutrality as a condition to funding the government. Can the FCC do anything to reestablish net neutrality in the face of this, or do we just have to accept that it is ended?

It's hard to say right now. The 2014 election is coming up, and we have a very different congress after it happens. In the short term we probably won't see any changes, but over the longer term things could change drastically depending on who is elected in the next congress.

Legislation just introduced to restore net neutrality, but I would be shocked if anything actually gets passed, or even voted on, by this Congress. Anyway, it’s called the Open Internet Preservation Act, so you might want to give your Senators and Congressman a call if it’s something you support.



Well, to be fair, it’s not “some in Congress” it is Republicans in the House, although I’m shocked that they found the time to even mention net neutrality in between all the votes to defund Obamacare. The FCC can take many actions without explicit approval from Congress based on existing laws. The problem, if you are a supporter of net neutrality, is that Congress controls the purse strings, and they can act to defund or restrict sections of the FCC that are attempting to implement the changes.


It really comes down to a fundamental difference in philosophy (once you get past the millions of dollars of donations from ISPs). One side thinks that preventing a business from having too much power over consumers is a good thing, and the other thinks there shouldn’t be any control over businesses’ actions, because “the marketplace” will sort it out in the most efficient way possible. I personally think the later view is simplistic, while I’m sure those who worship at the temple of “the marketplace” think I am a socialist commie fascist. I suppose the good thing about a divided government is that neither side will completely get what they want. Of course, we used to accomplish that through the art of compromise, but with compromise now being considered almost an act of treason by many primary voters, we have to take what we can get. I personally hope that means a preservation of net neutrality.  

Answer this