Congressman Funded by Telecommunications Campaign Cash Proposes Bill to Stop FCC’s Net Neutrality Plans

Earlier this week Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) filed legislation that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from attempting to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. While the legislation is more of a dramatic public show of support for the idea that the FCC should not have the power to regulate anything, it's also interesting because the Congressman is "bankrolled" by lobbyists for the telecommunications industry.

Congressman Latta received $51,000 from cable company interests in the two-year period ending December 2013, according to data from campaign finance watchdog group OpenSecrets. According to the group, Latta was one of "28 House members who lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to drop net neutrality after receiving more than twice the amount in campaign contributions from the broadband sector than the average for all House members. Latta, who has been a member of Congress since 2007, reportedly received $32,500 from political action committees representing AT&T and AT&T employees during his career, according to OpenSecrets' list of his top contributors. He received an additional $29,500 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and $21,000 from Time Warner Cable-linked interests. Verizon PACs and individuals gave him $16,000, the American Cable Association gave him $15,000, CenturyLink PACs gave him $11,400, and Comcast PACs gave him $11,000.

Latta's bill aims to "amend the Communications Act of 1934 to limit the authority of the Federal Communications Commission over providers of broadband Internet access service."

Latta describes his legislation as an attempt to "keep [the] Internet open and accessible."

But the FCC's most recent proposal does not suggest reclassifying broadband as a Title II service; instead it would use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to regulate broadband while allowing "fast lanes." That proposal is not finalized and is taking public comment from stakeholders, rights groups, and the general public.

Latta is apparently under the impression that the FCC has decided to reclassify broadband as a common carrier service.

"In light of the FCC initiating yet another attempt to regulate the Internet, upending long-standing precedent and imposing monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations on the 21st Century broadband marketplace, Congress must take action to put an end to this misguided regulatory proposal," Latta said in his announcement. "The Internet has remained open and continues to be a powerful engine fueling private enterprise, economic growth and innovation absent government interference and obstruction. My legislation will provide all participants in the Internet ecosystem the certainty they need to continue investing in broadband networks and services that have been fundamental for job creation, productivity, and consumer choice."

The bill from Latta currently has no co-sponsors. After being introduced on Wednesday, his bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Source: Ars Technica

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