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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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WASHINGTON -- On Monday, in a speech at Silicon Flatirons, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler discussed the agency’s role and the possibility of a rewrite of the Communications Act.  He touched on a range of issues before the FCC, including Net Neutrality.

"While new circumstances require that we think anew about our communications laws, they also demand that we must act anew," he said.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

"As policymakers discuss the relevance of the 1996 Telecom Act, they should take care to understand the numerous misconceptions about it. History makes it clear that Congress anticipated the broadband-access market and gave the FCC the tools it needs to protect Internet users. The problem isn't with the Act, but with the politically motivated actions of Chairman Wheeler’s predecessors who tried to break Congress' blueprint.

“The principles undergirding Wheeler’s 'network compact' are the very same ones that form the heart of the Communications Act. ‘Network compact’ is simply a new term for the principles of common carriage in communications. The law's embrace of common carriage reflects the belief that ensuring our speech is carried without discrimination is essential to our right to speak freely.

"The Communications Act doesn't need to be replaced. It needs to be enforced. As Chairman Wheeler recognized, the FCC can — and should — move forward on its own to accomplish the important goals outlined in today’s speech, and it should do so using the tools Congress gave it. Step one is to restore the agency’s authority over broadband by reclassifying it under Title II as a common-carriage service.”

Last Friday, Free Press sent a letter to Chairman Wheeler on the need for the FCC to restore broadband authority under the law as Congress intended. To read the letter, go to:  freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/Free_Press_Feb_2014_FCC_Letter.pdf.

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