As someone who once served as the governor of Florida, it stands to reason that presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has seen and heard some downright wild ideas, as most politicians probably have. But the one that's apparently so far out there as to be deemed the "craziest idea" of all is the Federal Communications Commission's decision to regulate broadband Internet as a utility.
"The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I've ever heard," Bush said, according to Time. "Just think of the logic of using a 1934 law that was designed when we did have a monopoly for wire line service as the basis to regulate the most dynamic part of life in America."
Jeb is taking the stance of ISPs and telecoms like AT&T and Verizon who all say that regulating the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 is a gloom and doom scenario waiting to happen, one in which the government will impose all sorts of fees leading to higher priced Internet access and related services. They also claim it will stifle innovation.
However, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is obviously not in agreement.
"We have heard endless repetition of the talking point that 'Title II is old-style, 1930’s monopoly regulation.' It’s a good sound bite, but it is misleading when used to describe the modernized version of Title II in this Order," Wheeler said when announcing the FCC's ruling.
Wheeler added it was "nonsense" that the FCC has a secret plan to regulate the web and has maintained that the new rules will ensure a "fast, fair, and open" Internet. Instead, the rules in place prohibit broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, throttling service based on content, and offering paid prioritization, otherwise known as Internet fast lanes.
The FCC had tried before to implement net neutrality rules, but an appeals court stood in the way, ruling that the government organization didn't have the legal power to impose rules because ISPs weren't considered "common carriers," and thus aren't subject to the same rules and regulations as telecoms.
Reclassifying the Internet as a utility gives the FCC the power it needs to impose net neutrality rules, though lawsuits are sure to follow. It's going to be tough for ISPs and telecoms to reverse the ruling, but they could be successful in having the rules put on hold until courts are able to rule on the matter.
Meanwhile, look for companies to test the FCC's rules to see how much they can get away with. One recent example is Comcast's decision to block PlayStation 4 customers from accessing HBO Go due to "business decisions."