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The War on Net Neutrality

By Congressman Markwayne Mullin

Recently, I’ve heard concerns from constituents about net neutrality. Some Oklahomans are fearful that the FCC under the Trump Administration will make their internet less free and open. This is simply untrue.

Net neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. This is the way the internet has always operated and thrived. By and large, there is no disagreement that we should have an open internet. I support an open internet that doesn’t discriminate on content and protects both free speech and consumer privacy.

In 2015, the FCC under President Obama made a sudden change to how the internet is regulated. Although there were previously no problems with how the internet was regulated, the agency cast a cumbersome regulation over the internet anyway. The FCC applied Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet and classified internet service as a ‘common carrier’ – making the internet a utility, to be treated like a phone or power company. This gave the FCC the responsibility to regulate the internet. 

The problem is that the FCC is not well-equipped to regulate the internet and oversee the privacy of millions of Americans each day. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had already been managing internet service providers and internet privacy successfully before Title II was applied. 

Since Title II was applied, investments in broadband networks have declined, plans to update broadband infrastructure have been halted, and Americans’ online privacy was weakened because the FTC no longer had authority over broadband providers’ privacy and security practices. 

On December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on Chairman Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order which would reclassify internet service providers under Title I. Restoring the classification of broadband internet access as an “information service” will not make your internet less free or less open. It will merely put the regulation of the internet back into the hands of the FTC just as it was prior to 2015.

The Restoring Internet Freedom Order would empower the FTC to regulate and formally disapprove of unfair methods of competition or deceptive practices by internet service providers. The FTC is the nation’s premier consumer protection agency, and until the FCC stripped it of jurisdiction over internet service in 2015, the FTC was responsible for policing digital privacy and consumer protection across the entire online ecosystem.

Still want to learn more? Click here to read Chairman Pai’s Myth vs. Fact sheet that sets the record straight on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, or see a few of the most common myths below.

MYTH: This is the end of the Internet as we know it.
FACT: The Internet was free and open before the Obama Administration’s 2015 heavy-handed Title II Internet regulations, and it will be free and open after they are repealed.

MYTH: Internet service providers will block you from visiting the websites you want to visit.
FACT: Internet service providers didn’t block websites before the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed 2015 Internet regulations and won’t after they are repealed. Any Internet service provider would be required to publicly disclose this practice and would face fierce consumer backlash as well as scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission, which will have renewed authority to police unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices.

MYTH: Broadband providers will charge you a premium if you want to reach certain online content.
FACT: This didn’t happen before the Obama Administration’s 2015 heavy-handed Internet regulations, and it won’t happen after they are repealed.

MYTH: This will result in “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the Internet that will worsen consumers’ online experience.
FACT: Restoring Internet freedom will lead to better, faster, and cheaper broadband for consumers and give startups that need priority access (such as telehealth applications) the chance to offer new services to consumers.

As always, please feel free to write me an email or call one of my offices to get more information and have your questions answered.  

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