Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) reiterated his opposition to FCC net neutrality rules and said that opposition holds whether or not the FCC has the legal authority to do so.
"I will block the FCC from regulating the Internet," he headlined item number five in his itemized pledge for what he would do as chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee (he is battling current ranking member Joe Barton (R-Tex.) for the post).
Echoing his consistent criticisms, Upton said: "The FCC's regulatory compass must be broken as it continues in its unrelenting pursuit to impose so-called network neutrality regulations, regardless of whether the agency has the legal authority for such a blind power grab, and whether such regulations will actually undermine the FCC's ability to achieve the goals of the National Broadband Plan. The FCC must stand down from pursuing a course unauthorized and opposed by Congress," he said.
The FCC last October proposed to expand and codify its network neutrality rules, but ran into a stumbling block, or so it believes, when a court ruled it had not sufficiently justified its power to punish Comcast for blocking peer-to-peer file uploads. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed classifying broadband as a title common carrier service, but the FCC is also said to be working on an option to use its current Title I authority to enforce network neutrality. A third option is a compromise bill from Congress clarifying the FCC's authority, but Republicans are more likely to introduce legislation to block net neutrality rules than sign on to a compromise bill that could be perceived as Internet regulation.
According to Wired.com, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told a Silicon Valley gathering this week that Internet openness rules "will happen," but that still appears to leave open his options to choose from the above.
In his race for the chairmanship, Upton is also in a race to establish his conservative, pro-business credentials after being painted as a moderate by Barton. Among his other pledges are to the "sanctity of human life," repealing healthcare, cutting spending, and keeping carbon emission offset regs off the table. Earlier in the week, in another flexing of conservative muscle, Barton pointed out that he has pushed for greater fines for broadcast indecency, including co-authoring the bill that raised those fines tenfold.