Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced legislation to strip the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to regulate Internet broadband as a public utility. If passed, the legislation would do away with the agency’s divisive new net neutrality rules.
Late last month, a politically divided FCC approved the neutrality rules with the stated purpose of prohibiting Internet service providers from picking favorites among legal content providers on the Web.
Blackburn and other critics of the plan, including dissenting FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, argue that reclassifying cyber broadband as a public utility clears the way for all manner of <a “nofollow”=”” href=”http://personalliberty.com/obamas-internet-plan-worse-imagined-says-fcc-commissioner/” target=”_blank”>government intrusionin the free flow of online information.
“Once the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all,” Blackburn said in a statement. “My legislation will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations.”
Indeed, the lawmaker’s proposal states that the FCC’s new rules “shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.”
Blackburn’s legislation is backed by 31 fellow Republicans, but it also has its critics.
A reporter for Tech Times on Thursday charged that Blackburn’s proposal is about protecting the interests of massive tech companies, not keeping the government’s hands off the Internet, writing: “As it is often the case with these Republican politicians, Blackburn has a lot of reason to side with Internet service providers. In the last election cycle, Blackburn received $25,000 from an AT&T political action committee, $20,000 from a Comcast PAC, $20,000 from a cable industry association PAC and $15,000 from a Verizon PAC.
“It is not known whether Blackburn is acting at the suggestion of Internet service providers, but if not, as mentioned, she certainly has reason to fight for these companies, whether it benefits the general public or not.”
Proponents of Blackburn’s legislation, meanwhile, contend that passage of the Blackburn bill would send a powerful message that government can’t legislate via bureaucracy by stripping the FCC of its assumed authority over the Internet.
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