Get government out of the Internet’s business
By Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee
May 4 2017
Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah are members of the U.S. Senate.
Why would the former head of a federal agency write an opinion essay defending a federal regulation he created without ever naming the regulation he is trying to defend?
Because he doesn’t want you to know there was a time when the regulation never existed.
First, some back story. Progressive activists have always been uncomfortable with the unregulated nature of the Internet. So when Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, they immediately began lobbying his campaign for so-called net neutrality regulations that would enable the federal government to begin regulating the Internet the same way the federal government regulates telephone companies.
In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission released its “Open Internet Order,” which allowed federal bureaucrats to begin engineering the Internet as they saw fit. The nation’s Internet service providers thought the Internet was working just fine without these new regulations so they sued in federal court to block them — and won.
Concerned that an independent agency wasn’t accomplishing then-President Barack Obama’s progressive agenda, in November 2014, the administration urged the FCC to create a new legal justification for their net-neutrality policy using the same regulations designed for public utilities. The “independent” FCC capitulated and adopted a new Open Internet Order in February 2015. That regulation is also being challenged in court, but the ongoing litigation may be moot because new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced April 26 that the FCC would be revoking the order it imposed on the Internet just two years ago.
Enter Tom Wheeler, Obama’s former FCC chairman, and two of our Democratic colleagues in the Senate, who wrote a commentary for The Post the same day Pai made his announcement, and claimed, “For as long as the Internet has existed, it has been grounded on the principle of net neutrality.” But the term “net neutrality” didn’t even exist until 2003, and the regulation the rest of the op-ed goes on to defend is barely two years old.
The reason Wheeler et al. want to keep their audience ignorant of this history becomes clear when they make the case for Pai keeping the new net-neutrality regulations: “Net neutrality also allows small businesses to compete against the largest, most profitable corporations. Here’s just one example. In 2005, three guys set up shop above a pizzeria in a strip mall in San Mateo, Calif., where they launched the now-ubiquitous YouTube. Video-sharing websites were in their infancy, but these guys already faced competition from something called Google Video. Because of net neutrality, YouTube was able to contend with Google on a level playing field.”