Cliff Stearns introduces bill to curb FCC’s net neutrality bid


Democrats have been promising to write laws authorizing the FCC to enforce the concept of net neutrality on the internet. Now along comes a key House Republican with a bill that would prevent the same thing.

The rep is Cliff Stearns (R-FL), the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, the House gateway through which most communications-related business passes. His bill is H.R. 5257, the Internet Investment, Innovation, and Competition Preservation Act, which he calls the Net Neutrality Bill for short.

 “The Internet continues to thrive and grow in the current free-market environment, and, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s own National Broadband Plan, 95% of all Americans have access to broadband and approximately 200 million subscribers have broadband at home today,” he noted. “I see no reason for Internet regulation. Yet, if there is ever a cause for regulation, it is a decision to be made by Congress – not the FCC.”

Stearns said it is important that the internet retain its classification as an information service, governed by Title I rules. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s hybrid regulatory plan for the internet makes limited use of Title II applications to support enforcement of neutrality.

Stearns described the contents of his bill, explaining, “This bill would require the FCC to conduct a rigorous market analysis before mandating new network regulations. The FCC would need to prove that regulations are necessary and that there is a market failure that warrants regulatory intervention. In addition, it outlines the steps the FCC should take in completing this analysis.  Also, the FCC would have to report the findings to Congress.”

RBR-TVBR observation: As long as Stearns holds the title of Ranking Member rather then Chairman of his subcommittee, we would guess that the prospects for this bill are dim. But it is one way to strongly make a point on Capitol Hill.