Waxman’s Last Stand on Net Neutrality

It was announced that Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is proposing new net neutrality legislation. The proposed bill has likely been made in response to the recent court ruling in Verizon v. FCC, as it focuses on preserving the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) non-discrimination rule.

The non-discrimination rule forbid Internet service providers such as Verizon from charging content providers such as Netflix more than other sites to provide greater bandwidth. This rule was struck down last month by a federal appeals court. That was the correct decision because it allows for ISPs to prioritize access for content providers so that these new fee arrangements can generate revenue to invest in more network infrastructure.

The bill may be a Rep. Waxman’s last swing before retiring at the end of this term. Unfortunately, for Rep. Waxman, it is likely to be a fruitless effort, as the possibility for such a bill to pass the Republican-majority House is very low.

In fact, not only is the effort in vain, it may be redundant as well. As Berin Szoka of TechFreedom stated:

[The court] decision interpreted Section 706 as authorizing the FCC to regulate any company within its jurisdiction based on the argument, however contrived, that regulation would somehow promote broadband. This interpretation opened the Pandora’s Box of Internet regulation by both the FCC and state regulators.

The FCC already retains the ability to regulate the Internet to an overbearing degree. Congress should be working to restrain the FCC, not emboldening it to control the Internet.

In this instance, Waxman may end up leaving Congress with more of a whimper than a bang on net neutrality.