FCC To Be Stifled By House Bill

A little publicized bill came out of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce at the end of May. The bill, plainly called H.R. 4752, as originally drafted, aims to curtail what little authority the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently wields over broadband Internet providers.

H.R. 4752 has, as of yet, no working title, but is described as aiming to "amend the Communications Act of 1934 to limit the authority of the Federal Communications Commission over providers of broadband Internet access service."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Robert Latta and co-sponsord by Rep. Randy Weber, Sr., moves to label broadband Internet services as an information service and would be officially immune from any regulatory attempts by the FCC. Some groups like Free Press are outraged at the emboldened attempt again Net Neutrality.

Under Section 2(a)(2) of the bill, an information service would be defined as "offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing". The argument for Net Neutrality is, given that ISPs do not generate information of their own accord, but rather are used as a pipeline to transmit data, they should remain neutral in its transmission of that data. Laissez-faire advocates of ISPs argue that the market should regulate itself, rather than government intervention being necessary.

While H.R. 4752 cites past actions by the FCC showing to disavow broadband Internet services from inclusion under its governace, precident has already been set by the FCC with respect to cable operators video and phone services, a majority of which also offer broadband Internet services as either a Tier 1 or 2 provider. Numerous reports and orders by the FCC exist showing how the The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is applied to current telecommunications providers.

The contents of H.R. 4752, which made out of committee and it was introduced in the House the same day, May 25th, is available here, with the above-referenced verbiage highlighted for reference.

While requests for comment were submitted to both Rep. Latta's office and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, neither could be reached for comment at the time this post was published.