Washington, DC – Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement after voting against the Government Controlled Internet Act, legislation that would employ heavy-handed regulation, delay deployment of new innovative technologies, stifle rural broadband deployment, decrease investment in broadband infrastructure across the country, and could impose fees on consumers for Internet access in the future.

“I’ve long supported the principles of net neutrality because I believe we have a responsibility to protect a free, fair, and open internet. I’ve cosponsored and supported legislation to accomplish this, including the Promoting Internet Freedom and Innovation Act, which requires transparency and prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. I voted against House Democrats proposal today because I believe it goes too far by classifying the Internet under the heavy-handed regulation of Title II, which requires it be governed under the same rules as rotary landline phones.

As we know, the Internet was created and has thrived without this heavy-handed regulatory approach. During the two years the Internet was regulated under Title II authority under President Obama, broadband network investment declined by $3.6 billion. Broadband growth and access is critical to providing jobs and opportunity in underserved communities, connecting rural areas like those around Utah, and ensuring America continues to compete in the global marketplace. I fear the heavy-handed regulatory approach of the Democrat’s proposal puts that at risk.

I believe the Internet is the most consequential and important innovation since electricity, and I want to ensure we are careful not to constrict its endless potential. Net neutrality is an important part of this, but it must be done right.”

Background:

  • Since passage of the Telecommunication Act of 1996, the internet has flourished under a light touch regulatory system. 
  • In 2015, the FCC under the Obama Administration decided to change its approach to internet regulation and reclassify the internet as a “telecommunications service” under laws originally passed by Congress in 1934.
  • This decision would apply outdated rules better suited for telephone communications, than a vibrant, and innovative ecosystem like the internet. 
  • Over the following two years, broadband investment declined by $3.6 billion, the first period of declining investment in the internet era. 
  • In 2017, the FCC determined that it did not have legal authority for its 2015 order, and reversed its decision, returning internet oversight to the light touch regulatory framework that allowed the internet to rapidly grow and evolve for two decades. 

Government Controlled Internet Act:

The bill would allow the government to regulate the internet as though it were a telecom service, such as a rotary landline phone, instead of an information service.  This would cause a heavy handed regulatory approach as opposed to the light touch regulation currently prescribed by law.   

  • Democrats claim that the only way to “save” the internet is through government control, but the problems they claim are diminishing internet access do not exist.
  • Republicans believe that a free and open internet should be preserved, but heavy-handed, and outdated government regulations are not the correct approach.
  • A permanent, bipartisan legislative solution produced in good faith is the only way to protect consumers, innovation, and an open internet and that is why three Republican alternatives have been introduced this Congress, but Democrats refuse to even discuss a bipartisan solution, preferring a partisan messaging bill.  
  • The measure would fundamentally change oversight of internet services so that the FCC, rather than the free market, would set prices, approve deployment of new technologies, and dictate how internet companies interact with their customers. In the last year, download speeds have risen nearly 40 percent, and broadband investment has increased by $2.3 billion. 
  • The significant new regulatory authority granted to the FCC under this bill could be used by future administrations to impose fees on consumers for Internet access.
  • By reverting back to the Obama era regulations, the measure would harm rural broadband providers ability to finance their network development.
  • These policies would also cause a delay in deployment of new innovative technologies, such as the 5G wireless network, stifling rural broadband deployment, and decreasing investment in broadband infrastructure across the country.