American Conservative Union and over 65 More Form Coalition against Obama Era Internet Regulations

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The American Conservative Union, and more than 65 other organizations and public figures, have signed onto a petition pushing the FCC for more freedom from Obama era internet regulations. The goal of this coalition is to repeal Title II and limit government involvement in the internet. They believe the government should use a free-market approach when it comes to the internet.

These groups are hoping to capitalize on the new administration’s shift away away from the Obama FCC regulatory approach. The ACU released the following statement:

The American Conservative Union commended Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai as he continues to work to liberate the internet from onerous Obama-era regulations.

In 2015, President Obama and the FCC used Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to re-classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like Verizon and Comcast, as common carriers, similar to telephone service providers. This allowed the government to control, like they do with public utilities, what services ISPs had to provide to whom, as well as other regulations.

Repealing Title II would allow Internet Service Providers to focus on market trends to determine services and prices. It would reduce the risk that the government would mischievously decide what sites were allowed to be provided internet access in the future. Additionally, it would promote ISPs to invest in infrastructure and innovation. Title II discourages this private investment due to strict government rules and oversight, and the uncertainty of the future control.

The key points of the coalition are:

Imposing Title II regulations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) means the Internet experience will no longer be shaped by consumers — but instead by government.  Rather than being able to respond to what American households want and need in terms of content, advances in technology, information access, and delivery methods, the Internet experience would be determined by regulators who would have control over rates, types of services, and service footprints. Title II also opens the door to new meddling by state and local governments. Congress created the “information service” classification in Title I precisely to avoid this outcome.”

Innovation and investment require that government’s role be clear, consistent and limited. The “general conduct standard” invented by the Title II order is hopelessly vague. When asked what this standard meant, Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler simply said: “we don’t really know.” This is really no standard at all, because it leaves the regulator with unchecked discretion. No business can plan its investments under such uncertainty or threat of arbitrary enforcement.

Low barriers to entry increase competition and thereby promote reliable Internet access. Far from “clamping down on big guys,” looming legal uncertainty about how the FCC will regulate the Internet hurts small Internet providers most — those that connect people in unserved and underserved areas. The coming next few years will see the deployment of 5G wireless technology, which avoids the huge expenses of wiring the “last mile.” This could fundamentally change the competitive dynamics of the broadband market, erasing the line between wireless and wireline services, and driving an unprecedented level of competition, at least in most markets. Discouraging such new entry would only harm consumers.

We urge the FCC to return to the demonstrated success of the light touch regulatory model. The Internet thrived nearly twenty years under a “Hands off the Net!” bipartisan consensus against Internet regulation.  We urge the FCC to return to that approach. Ultimately, it is Congress alone that should decide how to update communications law.”

To see the full text and list of signatories, please click here.