ALEC Urges FCC To Block State Broadband Laws

The right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council is urging the Federal Communications Commission to block state or local broadband laws.

"As the Commission considers proposals to unleash the economic power of the internet, expand broadband deployment to all residents, and looks to the future of connectivity, it should ensure than any regulatory framework it applies to broadband internet access services recognizes that these services are inherently interstate," ALEC's Jonathon Paul Hauenschild writes in a new letter to the FCC. "Broadband is not now, and cannot ever be, confined to just one state or locality, since users freely access content from multiple states, localities, or even countries in a matter of seconds."

In the letter, ALEC argues that the FCC has the authority to preempt "local and state regulations representing barriers to broadband deployment."

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The request comes as the FCC is considering rolling back the 2015 net neutrality rules.

ALEC -- which is backed by businesses controlled by the Koch brothers, among others -- specifically takes aim at cities that charge broadband providers "unreasonable rates" to attach equipment to utility poles. "Localities do not act in a vacuum, nor is each locality the only one seeking to charge unreasonable fees," ALEC writes. "They seem to fail to understand the aggregate consequences of their actions."

ALEC does not single out broadband privacy laws in its letter, but such laws could be swept up in a broader preemption effort by the FCC. This year, lawmakers in at least two dozen states have introduced laws that would regulate broadband providers' ability to draw on subscribers' web activity for ad targeting. Verizon and Comcast also recently asked the FCC to block state broadband laws.

"The Commission understands the internet is not a local commodity, but an international resource," ALEC writes. "Yet, many federal, state, and local policies treat the services providing access as if providers act in a vacuum."

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