Brent Finnegan -- February 15th, 2011
Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Tuesday that he believes Congress, and not the FCC, should have purview over the future of net neutrality.
In December, following a conflict between Netflix’s content delivery network and Comcast, the FCC voted for what some described as “toothless” net neutrality rules. The new rules forbid ISPs like Comcast from preventing access to certain web sites, such as Netflix. But the rules don’t block those telecom companies from charging customers more money for faster, better access to certain websites. Also, mobile “smartphone” 3G and 4G carriers are exempt from the new rules.
On Tuesday, at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte asserted that trustbusting is Congress’ job, and should not be at the discretion of regulatory “bureaucrats.” Wendy Davis reported on MediaPost.com:
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet subcommittee, called Tuesday’s hearing the first step toward ensuring that Congress, and not the FCC, makes any rules regarding the Web. He added that the Internet “must be allowed to grow and innovate” without becoming mired in regulations.
Goodlatte advocated enforcing current laws governing telecom corporations, as opposed to allowing the FCC to decide what’s verboten. On TheHill.com, Sara Jerome reported:
Goodlatte did not see FCC regulations as a way to prevent anticompetitive behavior, criticizing the FCC’s order as “morass of bureaucratic rules.”
“I believe that the right approach is a light touch that focuses on punishing anticompetitive behavior, enforcing antitrust laws, and even potentially tweaking those laws to ensure that they still operate as intended in the digital age,” he said.
Testifying before the panel, Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said both antitrust and FCC rules are necessary to preserve the open Internet. She said net-neutrality proponents want to ensure “the next Google, the next Twitter, the next Netflix” are able to compete.
The industry Goodlatte spoke about regulating also happens to be one of his biggest campaign contributors. According to data on OpenSecrets.org, Comcast Corp was among the top five contributors to Goodlatte’s campaign committee during the 2010 cycle. The “Computers/Internet” and “TV/Movies/Music” industries gave generously to Goodlatte’s war chests during the same cycle, kicking in more than $145,000 combined.