I support Net Neutrality. As a representative of a district with thousands of small businesses and bold entrepreneurs, I understand the need to establish a light-touch regulatory environment that supports innovation and competition. However, I believe the recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse the 2015 classification of broadband internet as a Title II Common Carrier communications service may unintentionally compromise this goal.
This is why, prior to the FCC vote, I personally called Chairman Ajit Pai to express my concerns with the Commission’s plan and request that he work with Congress to seek a legislative solution to protect consumers and allow internet companies to innovate and thrive. While I was disappointed in the FCC’s vote to push forward with their plan, I am currently working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to enact a 21st century telecommunications law suited to the modern capabilities and nature of the internet.
The advent and widespread use of the internet has transformed almost every aspect of our lives. Our abilities to communication with each other, conduct commerce, share information, and learn from the vast catalog of human experience have been dramatically and permanently supplemented by the World Wide Web. Access to the internet is not merely an information service, but is a vital resource necessary to participate in the modern world. Policies that protect the free and open exchange of information on the internet reflect this reality.
This is why I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4682, the Open Internet Preservation Act. Introduced by Representative Marsha Blackburn, this bill explicitly prohibits internet providers from blocking or “throttling” any lawful web content, service, or data. In addition, this bill would create a service that allows consumers to report violations of these rules and existing anti-trust regulations. A timeline would also be established to ensure the FCC responds to these reports in a timely fashion.
By ensuring that fledgling internet-based companies are not throttled by internet service providers, this bill will promote innovation and competition in the industry. In particular, this will benefit new and small businesses that may not have institutional relationships with an ISP. This would create a level playing-field in which internet-based companies, media outlets, and content producers can compete to create the best products and services for consumers.
This bill protects the principal elements of the 2015 FCC ruling while also adding safeguards to improve accountability and respond to violations. I applaud Representative Blackburn for her leadership in introducing this very important piece of legislation. I look forward to helping advance this bill into law to create a modern and competitive internet framework for America.
U.S. Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, is the representative for the 25th Congressional District.