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Latta: Bipartisan Net Neutrality Legislation Needed; Title II Framework Stifling

Washington, March 12, 2019 | Drew Griffin (202-225-6405)

At an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing today, Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) discussed the need to pass permanent, bipartisan net neutrality legislation that protects consumers, but warned against the consequences of a Title II framework.

In his opening statement, Latta said, “The idea that only Title II is “real” net neutrality is dangerous and wrong. Those who are newer to this subcommittee or to this debate should not be fooled. You have heard over and over again that we need to protect consumers from blocking, throttling, and internet “fast lanes,” which sounds reasonable enough. Well, we can easily do all of this without giving the government free rein over the internet through the specter of Title II.  

“Everyone who has followed this net neutrality debate on even the most superficial level is aware that Title II is a nonstarter with Republicans, and even with some Democrats.  It has no chance of ever passing the Senate or being signed by the President. Yet here we are in a repetitive hearing followed by a string of partisan, victories that will simply ensure that everyone digs in further and nothing meaningful ever gets done to protect consumers.

Video of his opening statement is available here

In addition, Latta asked Former Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell on the impact that Title II regulations could have.

Latta: “My concern with reinstating Title II is the broad authority it provides would open the door to intrusive government regulation that has nothing to do with net neutrality. Will you answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to whether Title II could lead to the following scenarios? The government setting prices?”

McDowell: “Yes, Title II could.”

L: “The government controlling what services ISPs could offer consumers and whether and how they could be bundled?”

M: “Yes, Title II does that as well.”

L: “The government directing where ISPs put their investments and how much they should earn?”

M: “Title II has that authority – that power. Yes.”

L: “The government dictating how parts of the Internet should be interconnected and on what terms?”

M: “Yes.”

L: “The government requiring ISPs to share networks they built with private capital?”

M: “Yes, same answer.”

Video of that exchange is available here.

Last month, Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Congressman Latta, introduced three pieces of net neutrality legislation that have previously had Democratic support. Democrats on the committee have forged ahead with partisan legislation that would implement the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order and reclassify internet service providers under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.

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