This year should be big for the internet. For the majority of 2014, the FCC has been drafting new rules to govern how internet service providers (ISPs) use the infrastructure of the internet. With those rules set to come out this year, GOP rank and file are considering what tactics are available to them to undermine the FCC’s rules and fight the Obama administration every step of the way.
Obama called for the FCC to pass the strongest possible regulations in order to maintain free and open access to the internet. Free and open access, according to net neutrality supporters, is ensured only if the data on the internet isn’t discriminated against by the ISPs.
“We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” President Obama said.
But Republicans see the problem of ISPs picking winners and losers and think a different course of action is in order. For these ideologues, the only way to protect the openness and availability of the internet is to resist regulating it at all.
Senator John Thune (R., S.D.) voiced his distaste for the FCC thus, “The regulatory tools at the FCC’s disposal are outdated and its previous efforts to create rules to regulate the Internet were struck down by the courts. It’s hard to imagine that its new attempt will escape legal challenges and avoid the kind of regulatory uncertainty that harms Internet innovation and investment.”
So Republicans in Congress are contemplating what they can do to derail the FCC’s coming action. They could pass a law that would prevent any kind of reclassification of ISPs as subject to Title II regulation, but Obama still controls the veto pen. Any such law will likely suffer its bite.
Likely, GOP lawmakers will try to defund the FCC as retaliation. The agency has limited resources and big obstacles to overcome. Such an action could be catastrophic to the FCC.
|Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.|