Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats are introducing legislation that would overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order and reinstate archaic 1930s-style regulation on internet providers. This is - again - a sideshow by Democrats meant to garner sympathetic headlines from pro-regulation activists at a point when when sensible people are acknowledging reality: the internet will only be able to move forward with bipartisan cooperation.
The Restoring Internet Freedom Order lifted Title II regulations - regulations that were conceived of during the Great Depression to govern landline telephones - from applying to the modern internet. Title II regulations are a disaster that, in the few short years when they were in effect, saw investment and innovation by internet companies plummet after having thrived under the open internet rules that had been in place until 2015.
Since those rules were repealed, investment is up, innovation is up, and internet speeds are up for Americans across the country. Title II regulations are costly and harmful, and when they were imposed by President Obama’s FCC in 2015, began to throttle the successful regulatory regime that the internet long flourished under.
This will be yet another attempt by pro-regulation activists to revive these failed rules. They attempted to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, they have launched multiple lawsuits to try to reinstate Title II rules, and now Pelosi is launching this new attempt that will garner headlines and little action.
As NTU wrote of other failed attempts,
Congress should join together in bipartisan legislation that would protect net neutrality principles while ensuring that archaic regulations from 1934 don’t govern the internet. The principles of net neutrality have been endorsed on both sides of the aisle, with both Republicans and Democrats supporting the idea that Congress, not an executive-agency regulator, should handle these issues. Regulating by fiat makes for a world in which outdated regimes are responsible for a modern industry.
Democrats should halt these attempts to revive failed rules. The only smart way ahead for federal internet policy is through bipartisan legislation and agreement, and the single-minded focus on Title II as the only appropriate vehicle for internet regulation is looking backward, not forward.