Hearing Witnesses Warn FCC Net Neutrality Initiative Doomed to Failure
NEWS ANALYSIS: Congressional hearing witnesses warn that the FCC is about to vote on network neutrality rules that are certain to be gridlocked by years of litigation.There seems to be an assumption making the rounds here in Washington that the Federal Communications Commission's vote on network neutrality, scheduled for Feb. 26, will end the debate on the issue. The notion is that, once the FCC adopts and then starts enforcing rules that put the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, national policy will be decided on the issue for good. Nothing could be father from the truth. Actually, the real fight will begin as soon as the FCC votes that the Internet should be regulated under Title II. ISPs that don't want the regulation will file lawsuits that prompt one or more judges to impose legal stays that prevent the commission from enforcing its new rules. What eventually happens to the FCC rules is anyone's guess. But in the past, the courts have not looked kindly on the FCC's efforts to regulate the Internet.
In Congress, meanwhile, there is action on another approach to protecting Internet users from the ravages—real or perceived—of carrier greed. Hearings in the House Energy and Commerce Committee the day before the FCC vote focused on the risks of simply allowing the FCC to proceed with its plans. The top concern is that, if the FCC Title II enforcement effort gets tied up in the federal courts for years, there may be no net neutrality rules in force at all.