Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading the first legislative effort to roll back the federal government’s decision to start regulating the Internet as a utility, calling Thursday’s action by the Federal Communications Commission the start of the “Obamanet” and a guarantee of more taxes for Internet consumers.
On Thursday, by a party line 3-2 vote, the FCC approved a plan commonly known as net neutrality, but which critics like Blackburn see as unnecessary government intrusion into the private sector.
“This is the day the ObamaNet was born,” said Blackburn, who is vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The Internet is not broken. It does not need the FCC’s help and assistance in order to be productive or profitable.”
Coverage and analysis of the FCC’s net neutrality decision has been fairly limited, with both experts and consumers finding the issue very complicated. Blackburn said the impact of this is clear and very significant.
“The FCC will now reclassify broadband services from an information service to a telecommunications service. They will do this under a 1930s-era law, the Telecommunications Act. They will thereby subject the Internet to taxes, regulation, international considerations that are now put on our wire-lined phones. So this is a step backward; it is not a step forward,” said Blackburn, who stresses that the private market was serving consumers just fine.
“It’s a sad day when you see the Federal Communications Commission coming in and preceding your Internet service provider, your ISP, in the governance of the Internet,” she said. “Basically, what you’re going to see is the FCC will now be able to assign priority and value to content because they will be in charge of controlling pricing and fees.”