SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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CCAGW Frustrated on FCC’s Ruling of Net Neutrality Proposal

Today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) expressed its disappointment over the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) May 15 decision to increase government regulations over the Internet. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to Protect and Promote the Open Internet, was approved on a party-line vote of three-to-two, with the Republicans on the commission voting against the proposal. The FCC will now open the proposal to public comment for 120 days.

Using Section 706 of the Communications Act as the source of the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet, the NPRM includes a framework that retains the definitions and scope of the most recent Open Internet Order; enhances the transparency rules upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court; adopts no-blocking rules and adds protections for edge providers; requires the creation of enforceable standards of reasonable practices; and creates a multi-faceted dispute resolution procedure.

CCAGW has been a strong opponent of government-enforced net neutrality since 2005 and, unfortunately, this is not the first time the FCC has tried to impose government regulations over the Internet. In 2010, the FCC made an attempt to sanction Comcast for its Internet traffic management process, and in 2011 attempted to impose its Open Internet Order on the Internet. Both of these efforts were overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court, which ruled that the FCC has no authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet content flowing through their networks.

There are now an estimated 207 million Internet users in the United States. A 2014 report released by the International Telecommunication Union indicated that two-thirds of the developed world would be using the Internet by the end of 2014, while the amount of people using the Internet would increase to 3 billion globally.

“Apparently, FCC Chairman Wheeler believes that three times is the charm when it comes to the government taking control of the Internet,” said CCAGW Director of Technology and Telecommunications Policy Deb Collier. “There are more critical issues for the FCC to consider, including ensuring a fair spectrum auction, overseeing the Internet Protocol transition, and helping to create a first responder network.”

“The notion of equality on the Internet may sound reasonable, but ultimately, net neutrality is an attack on private sector business models,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “Proponents of net neutrality want the online world to be forced ‘open’ at the expense of successful Internet providers, but fail to recognize the many tradeoffs to ‘openness,’ such as increased spam, fewer privacy controls, slower service, and, perhaps most importantly, decreased incentives for investment and innovation. Congress is already revising the Communications Act of 1996. Therefore, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars reinventing the net neutrality wheel, Chairman Wheeler should stop worrying about fixing something that isn’t broken, and rethink his priorities for the FCC.”

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in government.

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