The fight over net neutrality today can be reduced to a single sentence: Everyone is suing everyone else. Congress should step in.
The Justice Department said Sunday it will take California to court over its law requiring Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally.. And California is one of more than 20 states suing the Federal Communications Commission over its repeal of the Obama administration’s rules.
The FCC abdicated its responsibility on net neutrality when it repealed the old rules with no adequate replacement.
Now, without setting forth its own rules, the federal government is seeking to block states from creating their own. But a nationwide framework governing net neutrality would be preferable to a patchwork of state regulations establishing local regimes for systems that transcend borders. And creating that framework is up to Congress.
The Obama administration rules overturned by today’s FCC sought to treat broadband as if it were a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act. That was a mistake.
But Congress could craft a law that focused only on prohibiting unfair practices and granted the FCC and Federal Trade Commission appropriate enforcement authority.
That law would have to allow providers room to manage congestion on theirzero-rating networks, while prohibiting paid prioritization that lets industry leaders cut deals at theexpense of consumers and smaller competitors.
Congress should also try to preserve practices that help consumers.
Net neutrality done right could fosterinvestment by forcing providers to compete by making their networks broader and better.
Federal authorities say it is their job, not states’, to take the issue on.
Congress should make sure they do.
-The Washington Post