The FCC first enacted net-neutrality rules in 2010, but a federal court struck them down early last year. Internet activists argued that the only way the FCC could enact new rules that could hold up in court would be to invoke its broad powers under Title II of the Communications Act.

At first, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that wouldn’t have relied on Title II, but he reversed himself in the face of a massive public backlash. In November, President Obama stepped in and urged Wheeler to reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service” under Title II.


The Republican net-neutrality bill would bar the FCC from classifying Internet service under Title II. Instead, it would grant the FCC new authority only to deal with net neutrality.


The GOP legislation would also neuter another source of FCC authority over the Internet. The FCC’s 2010 net-neutrality rules relied on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, a nebulous provision that says the agency can “promote the deployment” of broadband.

Continue reading:  http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/why-republicans-suddenly-love-net-neutrality-20150115

Commentary by The Secular Jurist:  The ancient Roman poet Virgil wrote that Trojan priest Laocoön warned his countrymen, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”  This paraphrase has persisted through the millennia for good reason, and it’s certainly apropos for the GOP’s apparent about-face on net neutrality.

Republicans are ideologically opposed to anything, especially government activism, which shifts power away from corporations towards consumers, workers, and ordinary citizens.  In this case, they are offering a legislative Trojan horse in a last-ditch effort to preserve corporate control over the Internet.  What the industry fears most is being reclassified as a “utility” under Title II subjecting them to price controls, like phone companies, and forcing them to serve customers they otherwise wouldn’t want.  The industry also fears the FCC’s current ability under Section 706 to promote publicly-owned high-speed broadband networks which can immunize local municipalities from state laws specifically designed to prevent it.

Just like Odysseus’ clever subterfuge in leaving a “gift” at the gates of Troy, the GOP’s “net neutrality” bill is being presented to your representatives in Congress.

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