Hill Hails, Pans Title II

Reaction to FCC vote is swift and politically divided
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There was immediate and voluminous response from the Hill Thursday to the FCC's vote to reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service under some Title II regs.

“This is a an enormous victory,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “This is the culmination of years of hard work by countless Americans who believe—just as I do—that the Internet should remain the free and open platform that it’s always been. Net neutrality is important for consumers, for small businesses and startups trying to compete with the big guys, and ultimately, for the innovation that has helped drive our economy for the past several decades.

“The bottom line is this: the Internet is a vital part of our daily lives, and net neutrality is at the core of how the Internet operates. It is critical to our democracy and our economy that it continue to operate this way."

A Republican senator from nearby Wisconsin had a different take.

“Today’s disastrous decision by three unelected bureaucrats at the FCC to regulate broadband services like a public utility speaks more about how broken Washington is than about any need for onerous regulations on the Internet," said Sen Ron Johnson.

“Since the Clinton administration, the FCC has wisely applied a light regulatory touch to broadband services, resulting in a highly successful broadband industry. The FCC reverses that bipartisan policy decision after consulting with outside interests rather than Congress. The complete lack of transparency and refusal to submit to any congressional oversight is corrupting, and consumers of the Internet will ultimately pay for this travesty with higher costs and slower service.”

The comments pretty much broke along political lines.

“Today is a historic day for the Internet Age. After a record four million public comments and months of debate, the FCC has passed strong net neutrality rules that will protect consumers, small businesses and encourage innovation," said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), a member of the House Communications Subcommittee. "I am pleased that the rules ensure that so-called paid prioritization schemes never see the light of day in our economy. Americans will not experience Internet slow lanes or gatekeepers hindering traffic. Small businesses, startups, libraries and hospitals will not be forced to cut special paid agreements simply to provide their content or service online."

“With the absolute ban on paid prioritization, the rules adopted today by the FCC will ensure that all data is treated equally – a cornerstone principle of the Internet,” she added. "The next Google or Amazon, the kid in the garage or dorm room that has a good idea but little capital, will succeed based on the strength of their ideas, not whether they can pay for prioritized service online."

“Resorting to Great Depression-era rules will trigger a stampede to the courts, unleashing years of lawsuits and uncertainty at a time when U.S. leadership and the Internet economy are more important than ever," said the Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee in a joint statement. "We believe the Internet has worked well under current rules, but we were – and we remain – willing to come to the table with legislation to answer the calls for legally sustainable consumer protections for the free and open Internet that has fostered a generation of innovation, economic growth, and global empowerment.

“Republicans, Democrats, consumer groups and investors all agree that we need sustainable protections to preserve the Internet as we know it. A 3-2 party-line vote is not the policy consensus this issue deserves. Consumers, investment in state-of-the-art networks, and job creation all stand to lose from today’s heavy-handed decision. And transparency has all but evaporated during this broken process. Once these rules finally emerge from the shadows, it will become clear that the FCC’s action today does not end the debate.”

“Years from now, I do not believe history will look back fondly at the definitive moment of Mr. Wheeler’s chairmanship of the FCC. Today, under his leadership, the Commission ended over 20 years of bipartisan consensus," said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). "With today’s partisan 3-2 vote, the days of leaving the Internet free of government regulation are gone.  

“The rules, hidden from public view until after passage, are borne not from demonstrated market failures but, rather, from perceived concerns originally raised by special interest organizations and candidates, like then-Senator Obama in 2008, fundraising off the net neutrality issue.  

“Now, all Americans will be subject to an Internet rule structure modeled over 80 years ago to address a monopoly in the telephone marketplace. Instead of looking to the future for ways to ensure robust competition in the Internet marketplace, this Chairman prefers to look back to a time when President Franklin Roosevelt occupied the White House."

“Today, we witnessed an historic day at the FCC," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"The Commission responded to the four million Americans who demanded strong network neutrality rules by adopting the most powerful Internet protections consumers have ever had. This tremendous success story shows that Washington can work. That is why I remain open to truly bipartisan efforts to enshrine the FCC’s work into law.

“But first, it is time for the FCC to show its work. So I want to thank Chairman Wheeler for his commitment to me that he will to do everything in his power to release this order as soon as possible. I ask his fellow Commissioners to follow the Chairman’s lead and make this order public. The American people have waited long enough.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, signaled the Congress could still act to clarify the FCC's broadband oversight authority.

"The expert agency — after thorough review and voluminous public input — has now acted," he said. "I look forward to reviewing the details of the FCC’s decision, and I remain willing to continue discussions regarding true bipartisan legislation.”

“Today’s FCC vote is a victory for a free and open internet," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). "More than four million public comments received by the FCC left no doubt the public supports strong net neutrality rules. Today it is apparent the Commission listened to the overwhelming grassroots public sentiment.

She conceded the fight is far from over, howeve.“These new protections, including reclassification of broadband services under Title II authority, will likely face years of litigation by incumbent telecom and cable opponents. However, I am convinced that these rules comprise the strongest approach to preserving and guarding the internet as we know it. "

“Today, we witnessed an historic day at the FCC," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 The Commission responded to the four million Americans who demanded strong network neutrality rules by adopting the most powerful Internet protections consumers have ever had.  This tremendous success story shows that Washington can work.  That is why I remain open to truly bipartisan efforts to enshrine the FCC’s work into law.

“But first, it is time for the FCC to show its work," Pallone said. "So I want to thank Chairman Wheeler for his commitment to me that he will to do everything in his power to release this order as soon as possible.  I ask his fellow Commissioners to follow the Chairman’s lead and make this order public.  The American people have waited long enough.”

“Today is an historic day for consumers, innovators, entrepreneurs – anyone who counts on the Internet to connect to the world," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who has already christened Feb. 26 "Internet Innovation Freedom Day" in honor of the historic vote. "Today begins the next chapter in the history of American innovation – it’s our country’s Declaration of Innovation. Today, we say our economy and the free expression of ideas depend on net neutrality.  Today, we say net neutrality is here to stay.

“Reclassifying broadband under Title II is a major victory for consumers, for our democracy, and for our economy. By banning paid prioritization, blocking and throttling, the FCC is applying the principles of nondiscrimination to the broadband world. The free flow of ideas supported by the Internet are creating the jobs, launching the global revolutions and supporting the communications that we rely on every day.  I applaud the FCC and Chairman Wheeler for standing up for students in their dorm rooms, activists on the streets, and innovators in their garages. I applaud the FCC for standing up for the best ideas, not merely the best-funded ideas."

“It is incredible to me that anybody would suggest with a straight face that turning the reins of the internet over to the government will somehow lead to increased freedom and flexibility," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. "One need only contrast the perpetual stagnation of traditional utilities to the explosive growth of the internet to see how nonsensical the argument is.  Competition in private industry drives prices down.  Government regulation ensures a lack of innovation.

“Over the past couple of decades, the internet’s growth has been a success story that has fundamentally changed much of society. The FCC is attempting to fix something that is far from broken," said Issa.

Senator Marcio Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, saw only downside to the FCC decision.

“A federal government board in Washington today took action that threatens to overregulate the Internet to the point of making it more expensive for consumers, less innovative and less competitive. The Internet has thrived on innovation, speed and healthy competition to become faster and faster. Unlike the roads we drive on, the Internet is not a place where we need to start posting new speed limits and setting up new speed traps, but that’s essentially what this federal action threatens to do to the Internet.

“I’m also concerned that this needless government intrusion into the Internet distracts from what we should be doing to reach the next frontier in the Internet’s history: to bring it within reach of the almost 100 million Americans who remain offline.

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