Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte delivered a blistering critique of new internet regulations Thursday, claiming they will stifle innovation and lead to $11 billion in new taxes and fees, $500 million of which would end up on the heads of consumers, according to experts.
Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, claimed in an op-ed on his website Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission’s “Open Internet” order regulating the internet as a public utility “would be a mistake and undermine the intent of net neutrality.”
In February, the FCC voted to subject Internet providers to Title II of the Communications Act — the same rules covering landline telephones — with the ostensible intention of enforcing “net neutrality,” the concept that internet service providers should not be allowed to either block legal content or prioritize certain types of content by charging fees for faster access speeds.
“The FCC’s rule is the wrong direction for the Internet,” Goodlatte asserts, calling Title II “the most heavy-handed regulatory regime imaginable.”
Contrary to the agency’s claims, Goodlatte predicts the new rules will reduce competition, innovation, and investment in the industry, pointing out that, “The Internet has transformed the economy and thrived precisely because of an environment of limited regulation.”
In addition, he claims, “It’s currently estimated that we will see $11 billion in new taxes and fees” when and if the regulations take effect, which could “threaten [the] very livelihood … of companies that serve small and rural communities.”
A study published last December by the Progressive Policy Institute came to the $11 billion and $500 million figures from the taxes that apply to other telecommunications services under Title II.
“Forcing companies out of business rarely results in more consumer choice,” Goodlatte notes, somewhat sardonically.
Goodlatte also contends that, “The FCC has presented no proof that there isn’t competitive access to the Internet right now,” creating the appearance that the agency “is in search of a problem that does not exist.”
As an alternative to the FCC’s order, Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation that would enforce the goals of net neutrality through existing laws, but without the regulations that so concern Title II opponents.
“The Internet doesn’t need an inflexible ‘one-size-fits-all’ government mandate to ensure net neutrality and consumers don’t need the extra costs,” Goodlatte says, concluding that, “The key to an open and free Internet lies in strong enforcement of our nation’s antitrust laws.”
This report, by Rachel Stoltzfoos, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.