On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to vote NO on the so-called “Save the Internet” Act, sponsored by Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.). This legislation would undo the steps the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken to restore a more free, innovative Internet.
Since its inception, the Internet has been one of the foremost examples of American ingenuity and the importance of technological innovation to our economy. One of the ways U.S. lawmakers ensured the Internet could thrive and grow unencumbered was to leave it under the light touch regulatory framework of Title I of the Communications Act of 1934. With the federal government out of the way, the Internet created advanced products that made life easier for countless American citizens and produced more jobs across the economy.
In 2015, the Obama-era FCC issued a rule to reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act. This put the Internet under FCC jurisdiction, and implement outdated, heavy-handed regulations on a part of the economy that had created massive wealth and innovation under the light touch regulatory framework of Title I. It was a solution in search of a problem.
After this destructive move, investment dropped for the first time in years. Thankfully, only a couple of years later, the FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, rescinded that reclassification. After Chairman Pai implemented the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, investment in our tech sector rose once again, and businesses across the country began announcing raises and bonuses for their employees.
The “Save the Internet” Act would bring us back to the Obama-era paradigm of big government interference in the economy, less innovation, and lower levels of investment. With America on the cusp of unlocking and deploying fifth generation (5G) technology, it is vitally important that we not shift back to this burdensome reality.
Light touch regulations give providers the space to innovate in the ways they build out broadband infrastructure in underserved communities. Too many Americans have limited Internet access. We can bridge this “digital divide” by lowering government barriers. Erecting new ones, as this bill suggests, will only slow that progress.
This legislation also presents property rights issues. The “tubes” used to deliver Internet by Internet service providers (ISP) are their property. Mandating how that property may be used and what prices they can charge is a violation of their property rights. Any lasting framework set forth for Internet governance must embrace this principle. The Save the Internet Act, on the other hand, outright rejects it.
The “Save the Internet” Act would also serve as a tax hike on everyday Americans. Because of legislation like the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 and the Tax Freedom Forever Act of 2016, Americans do not pay taxes on data use and information services. Reclassifying the Internet as a Title II public utility and telecommunications service would allow every America to be taxed extra for their data use. This could increase their Internet bill by up to 20 percent a month. This is unacceptable.
FreedomWorks will count the vote on H.R. 1644 when calculating our Scorecard for 2019 and reserves the right to weight any votes. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks