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WC Docket No. 17-108 In the Matter of Restoring Internet Freedom

July 17, 2017
By Katie McAuliffe

This letter, signed by representatives of Americans for Tax Reform and 65 other free-market think tanks, urges Federal Communications Commission commissioners to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order.

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This letter, signed by representatives of Americans for Tax Reform and 65 other free-market think tanks, urges Federal Communications Commission commissioners to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order and restore the agency’s previous “hands off the net” approach to internet network regulation.

FCC is prone to regulatory capture, Americans for Tax Reform’s Katie McAuliffe writes, a fact Congress has recognized in the past.

No government agency should be trusted with such vast powers—but especially not the FCC, an agency so prone to politicization and regulatory capture,” McAuliffe writes. “Congress simply could not have intended to give the FCC a blank check to regulate the internet back in 1996. In fact, the 1996 Telecom Act could hardly have been more clear, declaring that ‘it is the policy of the United States… to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” In 1998, Democratic Senators John Kerry and Ron Wyden urged the FCC not to apply Title II to Internet access services, warning that doing so ‘seriously would chill the growth and development of advanced services.’”

Internet service providers should not be regulated like electricity or water companies, McAuliffe writes. 

The Internet should be policed just like every other sector of the economy—through consumer protection and competition laws that apply equally to broadband providers, web companies, and nearly every other business in America,” McAuliffe writes. “But the internet should not be regulated as a utility. No one thinks of government-run utilities—electricity, water, or sewage — as cutting-edge or innovative. Everyone, though, recognizes the boundless potential of the Internet—and the impossibility of predicting how it will evolve. The ‘hands off the net’ approach—the deliberate decision not to impose detailed, rigid rules on the Internet — is precisely what allowed it to evolve to meet the changing needs of families, websites, content creators, innovators and businesses across America.”