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Chamber Of Commerce Slams FCC’s Attempt To Bypass Congress On Internet Regulation

Arguing that it has the potential to hurt the economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday condemned a federal decision to regulate the internet.

Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for the environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, attacked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his decision to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. The idea is widely known as Net Neutrality.

“The Chamber strongly opposes FCC Chairman Wheeler’s intent to impose heavy-handed, antiquated Title II regulations on broadband,” Kovacs declared in a statement. “By going down a path that reverses nearly two decades of bipartisan support for regulating the Internet with a light-touch, Chairman Wheeler jeopardizes the tremendous innovation and private-sector investment that we have seen in the broadband marketplace.”

The FCC argues that regulating broadband is necessary to keep the internet innovative and free for expression.

“Chairman Wheeler is proposing clear, sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression,” an FCC fact sheet argued. “His common-sense proposal would replace, strengthen and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit more than one year ago.”

“The draft Order supports these new rules with a firm legal foundation built to withstand future challenges. The Chairman’s comprehensive proposal will be voted on the FCC’s February 26 open meeting,” the fact sheet also noted.

The Chamber however argues that such a rule change needs to be decided by lawmakers that can debate and discuss the potential impact such a rule would have, not a bureaucratic agency like the FCC.

“Congress is currently attempting to craft legislation that would provide the FCC statutory guidance on this issue, creating certainty regarding the FCC’s authority in this area,” Kovacs notes. “In contrast, Chairman Wheeler’s approach will plunge the industry into years of litigation and cause extreme regulatory and market uncertainty. Congress—not unelected bureaucrats—should be responsible for determining federal broadband policy and whether or not such a fundamental change is warranted.”

The FCC is planning on voting on the rule change at the end of February.

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