The Republican Liberty Caucus has urged Congress to intervene to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from adopting President Obama’s so-called “Net Neutrality” rules, which would stifle free speech, technological innovation and competition in the marketplace.
“Handing the keys to Internet access to corporate cronies in cahoots with government bureaucrats is anything but ‘neutral’,” said RLC National Chair Matt Nye of Florida. “This move will logically culminate with the free and open exchange of ideas being impeded by government agents presuming to deem what constitutes proper Internet content and at what speed you will be able to access it. It will violate First Amendment free speech as well as the free market competition that has made the Internet and all of the companies that thrive there the tremendous successes they are.”
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are currently classified as information services under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934, but President Obama proposes that ISPs be reclassified as “information providers” under Title II, which would convert them to government-controlled public utilities. This would give the FCC power to regulate pricing and earnings as well as determine who could build digital networks.
“These rules would bestow inordinate power to appointed government czars to determine the players on the Web down to deciding the so-called fair rate of return on their revenues,” said Nye. “This will result in a small handful of mega-media conglomerates controlling access to Web content, freezing out the entrepreneurial small firms which are the fountainhead of technological innovation and creative content.”
“Once that happens, access pricing will increase which will have a chilling effect of freezing out web sites, blogs and other new media which are the basis of free expression and democratic debate,” Nye explained.
The RLC Statement of Principles includes the clause: “We oppose any restriction of free speech on the internet or in other media. We oppose any program to tax internet commerce or to tax or license website operators. We oppose efforts to limit the definition of journalism.” Nye said he spoke on behalf of the national organization to uphold those principles.
“The public voice must be heard loudly to protest this power grab to give the government control of the free exchange of ideas over the Web,” Nye said. “We urge citizens of all political persuasions to flood Congressional offices, the White House switchboard and the FCC headquarters with a clear message: ‘KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR INTERNET ACCESS!’”