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Phil Kerpen

Post Election Query: Can Republicans Deliver Action on Tech and Telecom Policy?

in Broadband's Impact/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, November 7, 2014 — In the wake of the Republican victory in the Senate on Tuesday, some see tech policy as one area for the party to deliver on the rallying cry of post-partisan compromise, commented TechFreedom President Berin Szoka. Tech policy issues like net neutrality has been the biggest tech issue of the year, yet, as the Washington Post points out, no one campaigned on it.

Szoka, whose group is a determined opponent of net neutrality regulations, urges Republicans to rally conservative faithful against public utility regulation of telecommunications companies under Title II of the Communications Act. “The New Democrats of the 1990s opposed Title II and so did 74 House Democrats when the FCC floated the idea in 2010.”

How can opponents of Title II regulation get their way?

There are two paths they could take.

One would urge the Federal Communications Commission to use of Section 706 to implement the protections for which net neutrality advocates have asked. Even Verizon Communications, which in January succeeded in getting the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the FCC’s Open Internet Order of 2010, announced their support for Section 706 in an open letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the National Journal reported.

The other route would be wholesale revisions of the nation’s communications laws.

“If we rewrote the whole [Telecommunications Act], we could get rid of a lot of outdated regulations that don’t fit, but we could build in some consumer protections,” said Phil Kerpen, president of the free-market advocacy group American Commitment.

Republicans and conservative activist groups see telecom laws as outdated. On Capitol Hill, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., who bested his Democratic challenger, and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., have led the push to update the Telecom Act with their #CommActUpdate campaign. The pair have been trying to rally bipartisan support through a series of meetings and idea labs in October.  The likelihood of an updated Communications Act seems appears to be greater with Republican control of both houses.

JohnHendel

Another tech policy issue with bipartisan support is an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. As the law currently stands, emails older than 180 days have more lenient legal standards for obtaining the content of those emails. In the last session of Congress, the ECPA Act of 2013 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont., and in the House by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Arizona.

 

Broadband Roundup: Advocacy Groups Weigh in Pro-and-Con on Net Neutrality

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2014 – A variety of developments on the battle regarding network neutrality:

FreePress Tells FCC Title II Ensures Net Neutrality Protections

The advocacy group Free Press blasted Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s efforts to use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as the means to enough to ensure network neutrality rules. The group said that Title II reclassification of broadband as a common carrier under the Communications Act is the right approach to both restore legal clarity and encourage investment, it stated in a press release.

“Section 706 is entirely inadequate as a legal foundation for any open Internet rules,” said Policy Director Matt Wood. “Section 706 promises nothing but uncertainty and future legal battles; it’s a shoddy and ineffective way to protect the Internet. Title II, on the other hand, provides ample authority for the Commission to prevent access charges, blocking, undue discrimination, paid prioritization and all manner of unjust and unreasonable practices.”

American Commitment Proudly Displays More than 800,000 Americans Against Title II Net Neutrality 

In an effort to combat the likes of Free Press and the progressive group Demand Progress, American Commitment said it had rallied more than 800,000 Americans to sign its petition to the FCC against any regulation of the internet.

“This exceptional outpouring of support for Internet freedom is proof positive that the American people firmly oppose any federal takeover of the Internet.  The FCC should take note and act accordingly,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment. “A Washington takeover of the Internet would be disastrous for free speech, commerce, and the future of the Internet as a sphere of innovation.  The American people oppose Washington’s effort to put unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in control of the Internet—which will create higher prices, less competition, and less freedom.”

Facebook Is Against Paid Prioritization

On September 11, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly met with officials from Facebook to discuss its stance on net neutrality. In a letter to the FCC about this meeting, the social media giant stated that it “has long supported a free and open Internet that is accessible to people around the world, and urged the FCC to adopt enforceable rules against paid prioritization or the creation of Internet fast lanes, so that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce.” Google made a similar statement.

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