Title II Is Gone. The Internet Is Still Here, But There’s More That Can Be Done For Consumers

The Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order has gone into effect today, marking the first day time since 2015 that websites and providers will be free from the heavy-handed Title II regulations imposed by the previous FCC regime. Despite hysterical proclamations from Title II activists, the internet is still functioning, and the FCC’s internet freedom order will allow it to continue to prosper.

The Title II framework imposed in 2015 tried to fit a regulatory regime designed for Great Depression-era telephone monopolies  onto the 21st century internet, and the results have been disastrous. At a time when other countries have blazed ahead with innovative next generation networks, U.S. investment in new technology and network buildout plummeted. The threat of heavy-handed regulation meant that technology companies were gun-shy about investment, as any move from the FCC could strangle innovation in the cradle. Now that the Title II regulations have been rescinded, new innovation and technology can flourish.

This isn’t the end for the fight for a better internet, however. Democrats in Congress have forced votes under the Congressional Review Act in an attempt to reinstate the antiquated rules. They’ve done so under the guise of protecting net neutrality, which is distinct and different from Title II. Title II is not about protecting net neutrality. This misguided push would reimplement these regressive regulations that shackled innovation for the last few years. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, Title II was about implementing price controls for the internet. The Senate voted in favor of the CRA, but the House of Representatives would be wise to let the CRA die and put their legislative efforts to a more productive solution.

Rather than abdicate their legislative responsibilities for the CRA, 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 Regulating by fiat makes for a world in which outdated regimes are responsible for a modern industry.

It’s June 12. Title II is gone and the internet is better off today than it was yesterday as a result. However, that doesn’t mean that policymakers should be resting on their laurels. Smart legislation and light-touch regulation going forward will help investment and innovation thrive, and maintain America’s competitive edge in the internet economy.