Myth v. Fact: What’s the Truth about Net Neutrality?

May 07, 2018 - 12:00pm

Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer

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Servers in a Yahoo data center in Lockport, New York.
Servers in a Yahoo data center in Lockport, New York.

In the next few weeks, the Senate is expected to consider a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that will undo the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) “Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” rather than working to pass bipartisan legislation that establishes a net neutrality framework and does not overregulate the Internet.

Before Senators vote to impose Great Depression-era regulations on the Internet, it’s important to set a few things straight.

Myth: Those who support net neutrality will support the Senate CRA legislation to restore the Obama-era FCC’s internet rules.

Fact: Many people and organizations, including the U.S. Chamber and much of the business community, support net neutrality, but oppose the Senate CRA legislation to restore the FCC’s rules. Why? Because the FCC’s rules went well-beyond net neutrality by regulating the Internet like a public utility.

Regulating the Internet like a public utility – using a 1930s era law – has real world consequences. The most damaging consequence: less investment in the broadband necessary to deliver high-speed Internet to more homes, schools, and businesses across the United States.

All over the country, communities saw a decrease in broadband investment during the two years that the Obama-era FCC treated the internet like a public utility, broadband investment declined for the first time outside of a recession. For example, one broadband company in Arkansas decided to withdraw plans to reach unserved rural communities because of the regulations. 

The fact is, reinstating the Obama-era net neutrality regulation means fewer Americans have access to the latest high-speed connections.

Myth: Restoring the Obama-era FCC rules is the only way to get net neutrality rules that will prevent Internet service providers from slowing or blocking content.

Fact: Legislation is currently pending in both houses of Congress – H.R. 4682 and S. 2510 – that would codify net neutrality into law without going the additional step of regulating the Internet like a public utility, which we already know is extremely anti-growth.

Incredibly, of the 48 Senate Democrats who have cosponsored the CRA resolution under consideration, not one of them have cosponsored legislation that would achieve net neutrality without taking the extra step to regulate the Internet like a public utility.

What’s their goal? To achieve net neutrality or to give the federal government the power to regulate the Internet just like it regulated phone companies in the 1930s?

If the goal is to achieve net neutrality, bipartisan legislation will bring the most certainty to American consumers and job creators and will drive much-needed investment and innovation in the internet. That’s a fact.

We urge the Senate to establish net neutrality the right way, promote a free and open Internet, and put rural and other unconnected Americans first by voting “no” on the net neutrality CRA.

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About the Author

Headshot of Neil Bradley
Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has spent two decades working directly with congressional committee chairpersons and other high-ranking policymakers to achieve solutions.