WASHINGTON, DC: In the flurry of media coverage on so-called “Net Neutrality,” information consumers can easily – and mistakenly – believe that net neutrality as a policy means a free marketplace and that such a policy has been around since the inception of the Internet.
Neither is true. In fact, it was President Obama who instituted a “Net Neutrality” policy through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015 – a policy that was abandoned by the current administration and after litigation. The first government regulation concerning the Internet was the 1996 Telecommunications Act in which Congress understood that the Internet flourished “with a minimum of government regulation.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(a)(4). The 1996 Act was uniformly celebrated for being “antiregulatory and antibureaucratic in philosophy.” Cong. Rec. H1151 (Feb. 1 1996) (statement of U.S. Rep. Ed Markey D-MA).
The Obama-era “Net Neutrality” policy, by contrast, directly conflicted with the open access goals of the 1996 Act. Despite the federal repeal of “Net Neutrality,” some States seek to impose similar significant regulations within their jurisdiction. To justify the new, heavy-handed regulation of the Internet, new regulations would relegate the Internet to telephone service regulations – clearly unintended in the 1996 Act.
As such, Southeastern Legal Foundation joins Washington Legal Foundation in supporting the FCC’s new Restoring Internet Freedom Order as consistent with Congress’ original intent regarding Internet regulation. Further, SLF believes that the new FCC Order preempts state governments from passing laws that re-regulate the Internet in contradiction to the 1996 Act and the FCC Order.
Click here for brief filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Mozilla v. FCC