Title II: an Unwarranted Reversal in Policy

February 4, 2015

WASHINGTON (Feb. 4, 2015) – In response to today’s article in Wired from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler outlining the Open Internet Order, Doug Brake, telecommunications policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), releases the following statement.

Today Chairman Wheeler confirmed what was widely reported and, after President Obama’s endorsement, expected: the FCC is planning to go ahead with net neutrality rules under Title II of the Communications Act. As ITIF has repeatedly stated, the decision to classify broadband as a telecommunication service in order to apply common carrier regulations is an unjustified, overblown response to what has in actuality been a by-and-large hypothetical concern. It is important to see Title II for what it is: a dramatic reversal of the light-touch regulatory policy that has seen the Internet flourish through the tenure of the past five FCC Chairmen.

Title II common carrier regulations represent a strong shift towards a European-style, precautionary regulation, over-regulating up-front without legitimate justification. This path will make it much harder to do pro-consumer network management, and is more likely to balkanize the Internet into distinct private networks and specialized services.

Beyond the common carrier classification, it is particularly troubling to see the Commission applying these rules to mobile networks. Mobile broadband is an incredibly young and vibrant sector facing tremendous prospects for growth. In order to keep up with booming demand, network operators will depend on active traffic management and differentiation.

Much of the popular sentiment behind the political decisions driving the order originate from fundamental misunderstandings about how traffic differentiation would work in practice and what tools are necessary to prevent harm to the Internet ecosystem.

It is unfortunate to see the Commission forging ahead with an Order so fraught with legal challenges and political opposition while Congress is actively looking for a compromise that will put open Internet regulations on firm footing.

Contact Will Dube, ITIF Communications Director wdube@itif.org (202) 626-5744

 

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.