Recode: On This Day of Action, the Internet Needs a Law, Not a Regulation

By Senator John Thune

Too often, politicians and activists of all stripes prefer slogans over solutions. Today, Silicon Valley players, big and small, and many Washington, D.C.-based activist groups are leading a protest to “save net neutrality” from the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to undo regulations the agency adopted two years ago. True supporters of an open internet, however, should demand more than another slogan. What the internet needs to end regulatory uncertainty and recurring threats of litigation is an enduring, bipartisan law from Congress to protect internet freedom by codifying widely accepted net neutrality protections.

Today, as we consider the future of the internet, we should also remember the history that got us here. Put in place after President Barack Obama pressured regulators to scrap efforts to find agreement, the FCC’s 2015 order regulating broadband internet under a Great Depression-era statute (“Title II” of the Communications Act of 1934) had support from just one political party. This action failed to embrace a self-evident reality — administrative rules, especially those affecting all internet users, need to have a broad consensus of support behind them in order to withstand future political changes. This reality has hit some activists too late, and others are still trying to ignore it — to the detriment of the very protections they claim to support.

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