Dear Mr. Mullins,
Thank you for contacting me regarding access to broadband networks, specifically the issue of net neutrality. It is important for me to hear from folks in Iowa on policy matters such as this.
An important part of the ongoing telecommunications reform debate is what approach should be taken to ensure that the Internet continues to spur innovation and connect people and businesses around the world. Under the Obama Administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new open Internet rules in February 2015. According to the Obama FCC, net neutrality meant regulating networks that provide access to the Internet. I disagree with this approach and will work to stop this regulatory overreach.
The FCC first issued rules governing network management and subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) to increased government regulation in 2010. However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down major portions of the FCC regulations. The court stated that the FCC did not have the authority to make these regulations and sent the agency back to the drawing board. The February 2015 net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC allow the Commission to regulate a vibrant commodity like the Internet in the same way it has regulated telephone services for decades. These new rules went into effect in June 2015.
Many contend that net neutrality rules amount to the FCC interfering in a lively, competitive market and may ultimately harm consumers. Proponents argue that ISPs need to be regulated by the FCC in order to prevent them from curbing certain Internet traffic.
On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules by a vote of 3-2. This action reclassifies ISPs from “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act to “information service providers” under Title I of the Communications Act. Under the order adopted by the FCC, ISPs are required to publicly disclose their practices. This would strongly discourage ISPs from blocking certain websites, discriminating against certain types of Internet traffic, or engaging in other forms of anticompetitive behavior. Contrary to the Obama administration’s claims otherwise, the rules created obstacles to investment in broadband infrastructure and threatened competition. Sweeping changes to such an important part of our economy and daily lives should not be forced through the federal agency rulemaking process— as they were with the 2015 net neutrality rules. Rather, the issue should be addressed in Congress, and it’s my hope that my colleagues and I can come together in a bipartisan way to find a path forward that ensures innovation, competition, and a consumer-friendly Internet.
Over the past 20 years, the Internet has evolved and grown, partially because of the absence of government involvement. Overregulation can hurt an industry by stifling investment and limiting competition, thereby hurting the consumer. Where there is less burdensome regulation, innovation thrives. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Internet to peoples’ daily lives, and it is essential to the operations of a variety of industries. The federal government should promote access for as many consumers at the highest level of bandwidth possible, not stifle the industry through excessive regulations.
Please know that I will continue to keep your views in mind as this issue is considered by the Senate. Feel free to contact my office with any further information, as I always enjoy hearing from Iowans.
Joni K. Ernst
United States Senator
I respectfully disagree. Your response is full of speculation regarding the potential negative effects of maintaining Net Neutrality rules. The rules have served to protect our rights and freedoms in the online world. Leaving such things in the hands of companies famed for trampling the rights of their consumers while price gouging and prohibiting a competitive marketplace is folly, and will only serve their purposes.
I can’t help but feel that either this is a small issue in your view, or perhaps you have a full plate. Either way we live in the information age. My children rely on our internet service being reliable, open, and affordable.
Given the practices already exhibited by ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast, there is no way that putting our future in their hands is in the best interest of your constituents.