Heartland Institute Tech Experts React to Net Neutrality Vote in Congress

November 10, 2011

The United States Senate today rejected, by a vote of 52–46, a resolution to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. A similar House resolution passed in April, but President Barack Obama had promised a veto.

The following statements from technology experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.

“While the resolution would have been vetoed by President Obama, it is disappointing that the Senate could not muster enough votes. The fact remains that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem – which even the FCC has tacitly acknowledged by citing potential harm in need of government correction and regulation, as opposed to actual harm.

“Market forces already regulate the digital economy faster than the government ever could, as proven by the Comcast v. FCC case of 2010 that was already moot by the time a federal court weighed in. Getting an even more sclerotic federal agency, the FCC, involved in micro-managing the Internet will slow down and strangle one of the last vestiges of economic vibrancy in America.”

Jim Lakely
Co-Director, Center on the Digital Economy
The Heartland Institute

“Rather than voting on the resolution’s principle that reminded the Federal Communications Commission that it possesses absolutely no authority to make its own rules, 52 U.S. Senators opted to vote on their erroneous assumption that the Internet requires government regulation. Although the battle may be lost for the time being in Congress, I suspect the FCC’s net neutrality decision will be overturned in a court of law.”

Bruce Edward Walker
Managing Editor, InfoTech & Telecom News
The Heartland Institute

“Just less than five years after the government’s own antitrust division said net neutrality was answering the question that nobody asked, the legislature has again dropped the ball in limiting the out-of-control FCC.

“Despite hordes of promising new technologies, ample evidence that Internet service is among the most competitive service markets, and stunning reports of the economic growth possible with an unregulated Internet, we see a legislature unwilling to cede government power.

“The truism is more accurate now than ever: Don’t expect government ever to remove itself from power – no matter what the implications. And the implications here are many: lost jobs, lost technologies, higher charges to consumers, and spottier Internet service. None of it was enough to slow down the centralization of power.”

Marc Oestreich
Legislative Specialist for Technology Policy
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.