Republican: Net Neutrality Will ‘Jeopardize the Open Internet’

All five FCC commissioners face questions from the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee member Sen. John Thune (R-SD) questions a witness during a hearing December 10, 2009 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
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Brendan Sasso
March 18, 2015, 10:52 a.m.

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans con­tin­ued to lash out at the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion’s new net-neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tions dur­ing an over­sight hear­ing Wed­nes­day.

Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Thune told the five FCC com­mis­sion­ers that their new rules “will only in­crease polit­ic­al, reg­u­lat­ory, and leg­al un­cer­tainty, which will ul­ti­mately hurt av­er­age In­ter­net users.”

“Simply put, your ac­tions jeop­ard­ize the open In­ter­net that we are all seek­ing to pro­tect,” Thune said.

The rules bar In­ter­net pro­viders from block­ing web­sites, slow­ing down traffic, or cre­at­ing any spe­cial “fast lanes” for sites that pay more. Sup­port­ers ar­gue the rules will pre­vent In­ter­net pro­viders from act­ing as “gate­keep­ers” and re­strict­ing ac­cess to on­line in­form­a­tion.

The FCC’s two Re­pub­lic­ans, Ajit Pai and Mi­chael O’Ri­elly, joined the Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors in blast­ing the new rules. “In short, the In­ter­net is not broken,” Pai said. “And it didn’t need the FCC to fix it.”

But FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er was un­apo­lo­get­ic. “There needs to be a set of stand­ards and a ref­er­ee on the field who can throw the flag if someone vi­ol­ates those stand­ards,” Wheel­er said. 

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