GOP Sen. Ensign: FCC should drop reclassification as Congress updates laws
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to abandon its proposal to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service.
The ranking member of the communications subcommittee said that the FCC shouldn’t proceed with its plan as Congressional Democrats last Monday announced plans to update the 1996 Communications Act to better reflect the nation's Internet-based communications infrastructures.
“Much of our communications law is based on 19th-century railroad regulation, and the last significant update, 14 years ago, barely mentioned the Internet,” Ensign said in a statement. With the announcement by commerce committee chairmen to revisit the laws, “the FCC should abandon its misguided attempt to upend settled and successful Internet policy by reclassifying broadband service as a common carrier.”
Ensign’s statement reflects that of major carriers, which have opposed the FCC’s planned reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service. They have instead insisted on Congress updating laws to bring clarity to which federal agencies oversee broadband and Internet firms such as Google and Facebook.
“A major rewrite of the communications laws leaves all exposed, as the network providers will strive to sweep edge providers into the scope of provisions reaching the ‘Internet ecosystem’ that affect privacy, consumer protection and bottleneck control,” said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst at Stifel Nicholaus research.
She and other analysts said Congress, however, isn’t expected to rewrite the 1996 Communications Act anytime soon. It took five years to write and pass that law.
May 25, 2010; 2:44 PM ET
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