Thank you for contacting me to share your support for network neutrality. I appreciate hearing from you.
I understand your concern about the possibility of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking or slowing down websites while splitting the Internet into “fast lanes” for certain web companies. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I often work on these issues in Congress. Protecting an open Internet affects every one of us, young and old, on a day to day basis. For the last 10 years, we have endured numerous attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to exercise dominion and control over a market that was intentionally left free from burdensome regulation when the Communications Act was overhauled in 1996. That framework allowed for remarkable leaps in innovation and investment in a free market spurred by vigorous competition.
In 2015, the FCC went against 20 years of bipartisan agreement and success on light-touch regulation of the Internet, and subjected broadband Internet as a common carrier. This ruling imposed significant regulatory burdens on the industry, with disastrous effects. Small Internet providers have decided to halt expansion of services, and repurpose money to regulatory compliance. Providers have been forced to cut services, and estimates suggest that this FCC determination has cost the country over $5 billion in investment.
This heavy-handed regulatory rulemaking by the FCC limited Internet service provider competition and disproportionately hindered small Internet providers seeking to gain a foothold in the marketplace. There is no reason to slow this transformative and revolutionary industry. The biggest complaint people have about their Internet is lack of competition with ISPs. The FCC recently voted to reverse the rules and go back to the light touch regulations we experienced from 1996 to 2015. This will once again allow competition in the marketplace as small providers can get out of the regulatory quagmire.
While there have been very few examples of blocking and throttling of content by ISPs in the past, I understand your concerns about the consumer experience. That is why I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 4682, the Open Internet Preservation Act, to codify restrictions on blocking and throttling, keeping the Internet free and open for all users, without hindering innovation and competition. I hope this targeted approach leads to a bipartisan dialogue where we can come together to solve these threats, without a government takeover of the Internet as we know it.
You can be assured that I will keep your comments in mind should I be presented with a voting opportunity in the future. I will also share your thoughts with my House colleagues. I am certain they would benefit from your views.
As a resident of Florida’s Twelfth District, your comments and opinions are an important source of information to help me carry out my duties as your federal representative. In that regard, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on any issue important to you. Also, if you would like to be informed more frequently about my work in Congress and in Florida’s Twelfth Congressional District, please visit my website at http://www.bilirakis.house.gov to sign up for regular email or to send me a message.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Sincerely yours,
Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress