Lawmakers Warn FCC On Open Internet
At a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on Communications and Technology on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski to close the commission’s docket to reclassify the Internet as a “telecommunications service,” under Title II of the Communications Act.
Reclassifying the Web as a “telecommunications service” rather than an “information service” would expand the FCC’s power to regulate it. While the docket has been open since 2009, the agency has not yet taken any action. Genachowski said it would be “unusual” to close the proceeding, as the commission is still accepting public comments on the issue.
The Hill’s Brendan Sasso says that classifying the Internet under Title II would put the FCC's Net-neutrality regulations, which bar Internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to any Web site, on firmer legal ground.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said that closing the Title II docket would reaffirm to consumers and businesses that the Internet would remain open.
Genachowski disagreed that classifying the Internet under Title II would lead to government control of the Web, saying that he believes in “no gatekeepers of the Internet, private or public.”
Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai warned that leaving the docket open would only "further chill investment" in the sector.
The Communications and Technology subcommittee has also recently held hearings entertaining the idea that a United Nations agency should gain more control of the Internet.
Shimkus said lawmakers from both parties worry that greater international control over the Web would stifle innovation and restrict freedom.