Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) vowed Monday to eliminate net neutrality rules recently enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), referring to the regulations as a “government takeover of the Internet.”
“Right now, freedom and free expression are under attack by a power structure in Washington populated with regulators who have never set foot inside a radio station or a television studio,” Rep. Boehner said during a speech at the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention.
“We see this threat in how the FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet,” the congressman continued. “Network neutrality, they call it. It’s a series of regulations that empower the federal bureaucracy to regulate Internet content and viewpoint discrimination. The rules are written vaguely, of course, to allow the FCC free reign.”
The regulations, approved by the FCC in December 2010, require internet service providers (ISPs) to allow their customers to have access all legal online content, applications and services over their wired networks and prohibit unreasonable network discrimination.
It is unclear what the FCC considers “reasonable” discrimination and it is likely to make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“There is no compromise or middle ground when it comes to protecting our most basic freedoms,” Rep. Boehner said, adding that the Republican majority in the House was committed to fighting the new regulations.
“We’re also going to do what we can to see that no taxpayer dollars are used to fund these net neutrality rules,” he said.
Rep. Boehner speech came amid a push by House Republicans to overturn the new rules. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology announced Sunday that it would hold a vote on a resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC’s Internet regulations.
“It’s precautionary,” Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), a prominent supporter of net neutrality, told Ars Technica over the weekend. “It’s a very clear path if you have paid prioritization, you have a fast lane that content providers can pay for. If that happens, then it’s kind of all over.”
“So this is about keeping the Internet the way it is,” Sen. Franken said. “That’s what net neutrality is. It’s about maintaining the architecture we have, which has created all this innovation and which doesn’t favor the big corporate interests over individuals and small innovators, keeping it the free zone that it is.”