President Obama’s plan to reclassify the Internet as a utility would inappropriately saddle the industry with costly regulations that would cripple future innovation and economic growth, argues conservative policy institute American Action Forum in a new video.
The Internet is not like other utilities, such as water, argues AAF in the video because it changes rapidly and dramatically. “In 15 years water will still be just water,” the voiceover says. “Can you say the same about the internet?”
Obama recently urged the Federal Communications Commission to implement the “strongest possible rules” to prevent Internet service providers from charging for higher broadband speeds or intentionally slowing them for certain customers, and said it should reclassify the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Supporters of the move to protect so-called net neutrality argue the government needs to step in to make sure everyone has equal access to the Internet. “An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life,” Obama said in a statement. “By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”
The FCC would need to reclassify the Internet as a utility so it has the authority to protect net neutrality — a move which opponents including the AAF point out would open the door for potentially costly and economically harmful regulations.
“If reclassification were to occur, companies like Google and Facebook might be subject to these burdensome rules as well,” the AAF voiceover says in the video. “These burdensome regulations are the last thing this sector needs. It represents about 5 percent of GDP — larger than agriculture, transportation and the housing rental sectors combined.”
Obama anticipated the criticism in his statement, arguing that “carefully written” regulations wouldn’t be an “undue burden” on Internet service providers.
The FCC is expected to act next year, after the new Republican Congress is in session.
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