Referring to the Internet as “a great equalizer,” Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn testified before the House Sub-committee on Communications and Technology about her support for an open network architecture and net neutrality rules.
“The current success of the Internet is largely due to its open architecture,” Ms. Clyburn said. “It allows traditionally underrepresented groups to have an equal voice and equal opportunity.”
Ms. Clyburn further stated her belief that, in order to maintain the Internet’s openness, it was important for the FCC to formalize into rules in December 2010 the four open network principles originally agreed upon by the FCC in 2005.
Ms. Clyburn addressed the criticisms that have been lodged against the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Among the critiques are disappoint with the ostensibly short amount of time the FCC used to consider proposed net neutrality rules; that the rules were imposed on a broadband access market that works well; that the rules would have a negative impact on investment and innovation; and that existing laws provide sufficient consumer protections.
Clyburn admitted that she would not sway many on the sub-committee to her point of view. She may be right. Prior to last year’s mid-term elections, a bipartisan group of House members expressed their reservations about the FCC implementation of net neutrality rules for which there was no statutory authority.
A House controlled by the Republican Party and a Senate that has grown more conservative due to the GOP winning additional seats last fall may prove an impediment to the FCC’s net neutrality rules going into full effect.
In addition, the GOP, very soon after the FCC announced its net neutrality rules, made it clear that the party’s intent is to repeal the rule, probably with the use of the Congressional Review Act. The Act would allow Congress to repeal the rule without the threat of filibuster as their was majority support for repeal. Reportedly among those GOP members that support using the Act to repeal the rule is the sub-committee’s chairman, Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon.