Democrats back FCC in anticipated effort to regulate broadband

Capitol Confidential

In the wake of the Court of Appeals judgment last week that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lacks sufficient authority to regulate broadband services, senior congressional Democrats are reaffirming their support for alternative methods of executing what some critics charge would be a de facto government takeover of the internet.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and co-author of the House’s Internet Freedom Preservation Act, said the FCC should “take any actions necessary to ensure that consumers and competition are protected on the internet,” and offered to “continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to provide the Commission any additional authority it may need to ensure the openness of the Internet for consumers, innovators and investors.”

Markey, like FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, is a backer of net neutrality, a policy that would inadvertently be instituted were the FCC to reclassify broadband services under existing rules relating to telephone services, and directly instituted were his bill passed and signed into law.

Fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry, meanwhile, insisted that while it is within the authority of the FCC to reclassify broadband he is not advocating such aggressive action.

“I am not advocating that the FCC reclassify broadband services as a result of this decision,” Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said. “But I absolutely believe they maintain that legal authority and it would be entirely consistent with the history of communications laws in our country if they did.”

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