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Cramer Applauds FCC Decision to Restore Internet Freedom

May 18, 2017
Press Release


WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) today to return the internet to its previous Title I classification, thereby restoring the light-touch regulatory framework which has allowed the internet flourish.

“I applaud FCC Chairman Pai today for restoring our internet freedom by rolling back President Obama’s decision to tie Depression-era, utility and railroad style regulations to the internet. Under the guise of the title ‘Open Internet Order’ and ‘Net Neutrality,’ liberals have tried to convince the American public that there’s something wrong with our internet today, and that the federal government should regulate it to make sure it remains ‘free.’ Clearly, they didn’t get the message that adding more regulations doesn’t help consumers, startups, or rural broadband providers – it hurts them. Take the rotary phone for example, which was in-service for nearly half-a-century with barely any innovative upgrades due to the overly regulated phone network that allowed monopolies to flourish – we can all thank Title II for that. You see, innovation happens when someone disrupts the marketplace, and turns conventional wisdom on its head, but Title II regulations don’t allow for disruption to occur. The internet was the ultimate disrupter and allows new businesses to thrive anywhere in the world – including farm towns in North Dakota. To be clear, this debate was never about keeping the internet ‘free.’ It was about giving the federal government more power over who uses the internet and for what purposes. We all support a free and open internet, and I’d be more than happy to work with my Democrat colleagues in Congress to ensure it stays that way through appropriate legislation. But it isn’t in the best interest of anyone to allow the federal government to take control of the internet through the use of Title II regulation.”

In 2002, broadband internet access was classified by the FCC as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act, exempting it from the heavy hand of Depression-era FCC regulation. This light-touch approach to regulating the internet created an environment where ISPs invested billions to bring broadband to more Americans and providers like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix were free to develop innovative new services. The Obama administration politicized the issue in an effort to bring the internet under greater regulatory control. In 2015, the FCC reclassified broadband service as a “common carrier” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, subjecting it to the full suite of FCC regulation.

Adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom NPRM begins a process where the public is given an opportunity to comment on it. Any potential changes to current regulations will occur after the FCC reviews the public’s comments. After the comment period concludes, the FCC will draft and adopt a formal order.

Congressman Cramer is the at-large representative for the great state of North Dakota, and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which has direct oversight over the FCC. Cramer has been opposed to reclassifying the internet as a Title II Common Carrier from the very beginning. In 2009, when he was Chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, Cramer wrote a letter to the New York Times saying “we should not fix what isn't broken.”