Sunday, December 17, 2017

Madam Foxx, We Totally Clear on Where You Stand on Net Neutrality

One of Virginia Foxx's Fifth District constituents shared a letter with me from Foxx, who was responding to the constituent's opposition to what Ajit Pai has done at the FCC -- ending "net neutrality." Foxx's letter is an appalling piece of gobbledegook in which Foxx criticizes Barack Obama (natch) and assures her constituent that the FCC is actually fixing a terrible lack of freedom on the Internet. Who knew?

Here's her letter, in its entirety:

Dear __________:

Thank you for contacting me with your support for the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Open Internet Order and net neutrality.  It is important for me to hear from constituents and I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts.

We completely agree that the Internet should not be monopolized by the largest ISPs and internet accessibility and privacy protection should be the number one priority of federal regulators.  As you may know, on November 22, the FCC released the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO), and on December 14, the five Commission members expect to vote on its adoption.  RIFO corrects the consequences of the regulating the internet as if it were your local utility provider, which actually brings about less competition and innovation, and exposes consumers to less privacy via government regulators. 

These consequences describe what occurred with the imposition of the Open Internet Rules in 2015 when the Obama Administration reclassified the Internet as a "utility" to be regulated by the FCC rather than an "information service" which falls under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The fact is that the FTC has the expertise in privacy protections and over 20 years of Internet oversight that the FCC did not garner in regulating static utilities such as water and electricity under the same Title II provisions.  Similar to trying to fit square pegs into round holes, this change of regulatory jurisdiction categorically upset the marketplace, discouraged industry investment, and punished all ISPs for the crimes of a few industry giants.

It is my belief that the Open Internet Order has not impacted all ISPs equally and disproportionately burdened new and small ISPs.  Regulatory burdens have prevented their marketplace entry to provide competitive alternatives to companies that take advantage of market share, charge higher prices for "fast lanes," and leave rural and low-income Americans underserved.  Even municipal providers, who often provide services for free, have struggled to comply with the overly-stringent regulations imposed by the FCC under Title II.

A faster, cheaper, and more accessible Internet-free from unlawful content discrimination and censorship-is at the forefront of the discussion for lawmakers like myself.  It is also my belief that the surest way to stifle an industry is to subjugate it to the heavy hand of government regulations.  Regulating problems should be limited to instances of genuine market failure, and I don't believe the current internet framework is failing consumers.  You do not mention specific legislation that would protect the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order, but if there is a particular bill you support, please let me know.  Rest assured, I will keep your thoughts in mind while conducting oversight of the FCC as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and should any relevant legislation come before the House for a vote in the future.

For accurate information about RIFO, I encourage you to read the attached articles.  If you need more information or have additional concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.  Please use my website,, as a resource to learn about constituent services, legislative information and my work in Congress.  If you haven't already, please sign up for my e-newsletter there for regular updates.  My best wishes.
Virginia Foxx

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