In a hearing scheduled for the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, Democrats have called a litany of pro-regulation activists to testify about their continued belief in re-implementing the arcane Title II regulatory regime that the FCC experimented with during the Obama years. This is a desperate ploy that commonsense lawmakers should reject. The internet flourished without Title II regulations, and now that those regulations been repealed, the internet will continue to develop in a pro-consumer and pro-taxpayer direction.
As NTU has written, Title II regulations stifle innovation and investment in American internet infrastructure, and any regulatory path forward needs to be bipartisan. House Democrats are unfortunately focused on a single-party advocacy of the failed Title II regulatory framework. Originally written in 1934, Title II is a regulatory regime meant to apply to landline telephone services, not an open and flourishing internet. Attempting to fit Title II regulations onto the internet is the epitome of a square-peg, round-hole problem.
Title II was in effect for only a few years, but its deleterious effects were immediate. Investment in the nation’s broadband infrastructure plummeted, and American competitiveness in internet speeds suffered. Now that Title II has been repealed, internet speeds are up and the future has never been brighter for American broadband policy.
Witnesses at Thursday’s hearing include Tom Wheeler, the Obama-era FCC head who unilaterally implemented Title II regulations; Denelle Dixon, CEO of Mozilla, currently suing the FCC because of the Title II repeal; and Jessica Gonzalez, Deputy Director of the pro-regulation organization Free Press. These are longtime Title II activists who want to see the reimposition of those failed regulations, no matter what the evidence is. Some activists have been more explicit about this than others - Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has admitted that Title II is nothing but socialist price controls for internet access.
Democrats have wasted little time in trying to undo the progress that the current FCC leadership has achieved. But common-sense should rule the day, and the light-touch regulation that has helped the internet flourish should be retained.