Mirroring a bill introduced in the Senate by John McCain (R-AZ), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had put a bill into play in the House of Representatives that would prevent the FCC from putting network neutrality rules into place.
Blackburn said that the internet is doing fine right now and that bringing the concept of network neutrality into play would actually reduce freedom there. She said the concept would allow the FCC to regulate the space the same way it does radio and television, likening the concept to a Fairness Doctrine for the web.
In a release, Blackburn commented, “The internet is the last truly open public marketplace. Its openness is the key to its efficiency and success. Not all public spaces need to be regulated spaces.”
She also indicated concern for lightening the burden shouldered by the FCC, adding, “The FCC has plenty on its plate with the regulation of television and radio; let’s not add to their workload by giving them authority over the Internet.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We have to admit we are puzzled by Blackburn’s remarks. There are plenty of opponents to the concept of network neutrality, but most of them base their opposition on fears that putting it in place will dampen private investment in broadband infrastructure.
There are few if any similarities between the way broadcast as a whole operates and the way the internet as a whole operates, just as there are few similarities between broadcast and telephone. The FCC is aware of the differences, and is in no way trying to overlay broadcast concepts on the internet.
As a matter of fact, it’s much more interested in overlaying wireless internet content on broadcast spectrum, but that’s another story – our point is, broadcasters have more to fear from the FCC’s internet focus than do internet businesses.
Furthermore, the issues being debated have nothing whatsoever to do with the Fairness Doctrine, which by the way does not exist. And we have to say that with the arguable exception of indecency enforcement, the FCC has for decades done an admirable job of keeping its nose out of programming matters – it really has. That track record suggests it can be trusted to keep its nose for the most part out of internet content.
Blackburn seems to suggest that the FCC would come in and tell people what they can and cannot say, when in fact it’s trying to make sure all users of the internet have an equal opportunity for send and receive content of their own choosing.
We suggest it is not the FCC but rather Blackburn who fails to understand the network neutrality issue.
This detracts not on iota from the fears of those worried about the investment end of the equation. That is where the real debate is, and we say let the real debate go forward.