By Harold Ford Jr.
On July 12, some internet activists led a “day of action” urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preserve net neutrality and ensure that American consumers can enjoy a free and open internet. Their effort to generate support for net neutrality is well intentioned, but their target is misguided. To ensure open internet principles are permanently enacted, Congress is our best hope.
Net neutrality is vitally important, but the FCC’s woefully outdated public-utility approach to this issue is falling short. If we want to preserve net neutrality for the future, Congress must enact bipartisan legislation making an open internet the law of the land.
Two years ago, the FCC decided to reclassify the internet as a public utility using an arcane regulatory framework known as Title II, which was devised in 1930s for some of the earliest rotary telephones of that bygone era. FCC leaders thought they needed Title II to provide legal support for open internet regulation, even though better solutions were available. Since then, investment in America’s internet infrastructure has been scaled back, while net neutrality, itself, is no more certain or protected for the long-term than it was prior to FCC’s actions.