On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent its Net Neutrality rules to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the final step before these harmful regulations become law. Once going through the OMB, the rules will make their way to the Federal Register for the final printing, thus opening the floodgate for numerous lawsuits questioning the regulatory authority of the FCC to enact such rules.
The proposed Net Neutrality rules look to limit how Internet Service Providers manage data flowing on their networks. Yet, under the FCC’s new interpretation of its statutory authority, if the rules are legitimized they open the door to regulating virtually any aspect of the Internet. What the FCC fails to recognize is that the Internet did not come to be the powerful entity that it is today by acting under burdensome government regulations. The Internet grew in a relatively free marketplace, unfettered by harmful governmental policies.
While the FCC has stated that they have regulatory authority to enact Net Neutrality under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, this section does not grant them such authority. Section 706 moves to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability” through “regulatory forbearance” and measures to “remove barriers to infrastructure investment.” Essentially, it calls for an expansion of broadband by deregulating the industry, rather than the FCC’s plan of onerous regulation. Even the Court of Appeals for D.C. ruled in a prior Net Neutrality challenge that Section 706 did not grant the FCC legal authority to regulate the Net.
As Net Neutrality moves toward being codified into law, Digital Liberty will keep you updated as the rules (and the impending lawsuits) unfold.