As FCC Prepares To Enforce Net Neutrality, GOP Congress Prepares To Undermine The FCC (VIDEO)

This week the FCC is expected to propose new rules for regulating the internet. Not at all surprisingly, Republicans in Congress are plotting to undermine the power of the FCC to enforce those rules.

According to the New York Times, the FCC is expected to:

“reclassify high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Communications Act.”

The new designation will allow the agency to preserve the neutrality of the internet, preventing service providers from creating fast and slow lanes, based on ability to pay. The designation will also prevent service providers from censoring or spotlighting specific content, an important factor when it comes to protecting free speech.

So why are Republicans working overtime to draft legislation that will keep the FCC from enforcing these simple principles?

On the surface, Republicans claim that such regulations will inhibit “industry growth.” Of course there’s no factual basis for that assumption, since the internet has been operating under these standards from its inception without any hindered “industry growth.” The telecommunications, likewise, has been operating under Title II since 1993. Industry growth has been anything but restricted. In the past two decades we’ve seen more growth in the telecommunications industry that at any time prior to that date.

So what’s really going on?

There are two main things driving republican opposition to new FCC rules.

According to the Washington Post, legislation being drafted by “industry service providers” and Republican representatives would ban both content blocking and the creation of ‘fast and slow lanes,’ while keeping the internet from being classified as a “telecommunications service” under Title II.

That makes perfect sense if you realize that internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast would have to start paying taxes under the new designation.

Prior to now, the FCC has designated the internet as an “information service,” rather than a telecommunications service. While information services are relatively tax-free, telecommunications are not.

Three Republicans, John Thune of South Dakota, the ever-disgusting Fred Upton of Michigan, and Greg Waldon of Oregon are teaming up with industry reps to draft legislation protect the one thing the right cares about most – profits.

An overview of the draft of the bill, which has not yet been introduced, reads:

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure Internet openness, to prohibit blocking lawful content and non-harmful devices, to prohibit throttling data, to prohibit paid prioritization, to require transparency of networkmanagement practices, to provide that broadband shall be considered to be an information service, and to prohibit the Commission or a State commission from relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a grant of authority.

Section 5 (e) of the draft almost comically spells out the bill’s true purpose:

BROADBAND TO BE CONSIDERED INFORMATION SERVICE.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provision of broadband Internet access service or any other mass market retail service providing advanced tele-communications capability (as defined in section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. 1302)) shall be considered to be an information service.

It shouldn’t really come as any surprise that one of the driving issues is taxes. We already know that the one percent despise giving up any portion of their beloved income to help pay for the many luxuries they believe they’re entitled to, such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, police protection, the protection of the armed services- and let’s not forget the salaries of the politicians that do their bidding. Those are all things they wholeheartedly believe that someone else should foot the bill for.

The idea that taxing internet service providers will hurt industry growth is absurd. All kinds of businesses all around the world pay taxes and still manage to grow and expand.

When talking about the “unprecedented growth in the telecommunications industry,” the internet is constantly mentioned in conjunction with other telecommunications services to attract new investors. After years of hyping the internet as a part of the reason for that “unprecedented growth,” they now claim that the internet isn’t actually a part of the “telecommunication industry.”

Here’s how NASDAQ defines’the telecommunications industry:

The telecommunications industry encompasses myriad technology-related businesses. Besides the legacy local and long-distance phone services, the telecommunications industry also includes wireless communications, Internet services, fiber optics networks, cable TV networks and commercial satellite communications.

Taxes aren’t the only thing at issue under the designation, however. There’s also the very real possibility of competition for the major companies that now dominate the market.

Along with his support for new FCC rules designating the internet as a “telecommunications service” President Obama has laid out plans for increasing competition establishing public internet utilities.

Should the internet be designated as a “telecommunications service” by the FCC, that will open the door for public sector competition. Under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, the FCC is directed to:

“encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans” by “[promoting] competition” and “[removing] barriers to infrastructure investment.”

The president unveiled his plan to bring down costs, while increasing access to high speed internet service in a speech in mid-January, given in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Cedar Falls launched its own public internet utility two decades ago. The city now has internet speeds that are 100 times faster than those offered by private internet service providers.

Currently 19 states have laws that prohibit public internet utilities. The president proposes getting rid of these laws, freeing up communities to create their own alternatives to those offered by existing providers.

Under the president’s plan, the FCC would provide support and technical assistance for communities that want to create similar broadband networks. Loans would be made available for rural communities that want to improve Internet access.

The success of this plan, of course, depends on the classification of the internet under “telecommunications services.”

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