Come Get Some! FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Net Neutrality Rules Will Smack Down Any Court Challenge
Not everyone is happy with the Federal Communications Commission's decision to reclassify broadband Internet service as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934; an 81-year-old law intended to regulate the telecommunications sector. In particular, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, and republicans are miffed at the FCC's actions and plan to take matters to court. No worries, says FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Wheeler gave a speech at Ohio State University where he emphatically stated that the net neutrality rules, as laid out by reclassifying the Internet as a utility, will stand up to legal challenges. He's not denying that there will be legal challenges -- opponents have made clear that litigation is coming. However, he's confident the new rules will survive.
"One final prediction: the FCC’s new rules will be upheld by the courts," Wheeler said. "The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, 'You’re trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying these are common carriers.' We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we’ve had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail."
The FCC's net neutrality rules ensure that ISPs can't throttle or block legal content, nor can they offer paid prioritization for so-called Internet fast lanes. Those opposed to the way things went down claim they support the same measures, but not by reclassifying the Internet under an Act that's eight decades old, which they say gives the government too much power and will ultimately stifle innovation.
In defense of that, Wheeler previously pointed out that the new rules, known as the Open Internet Order, only use parts of the old Act.
"And that is what we have done, constructing Title II for the 21st Century built on the strong foundation laid by the treatment of wireless voice," Wheeler added. "I was there when Title II was sought by the wireless industry. I know that the application of Title II to wireless voice services was followed by hundreds of billions of dollars of investment, great innovation and, of course, enormous benefits to consumers."
You can read the rest of the speech on the FCC's website (PDF).