ICLE Statement on the FCC Reinstatement of Net Neutrality

PORTLAND, Ore. (Sept. 26, 2023) – The International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) offers the following statement from ICLE Director of Innovation Policy Kristian Stout in response to today’s announcement by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel that the FCC plans to open the process for reimposing net neutrality:

Despite dire predictions, the internet has thrived in the absence of utility-style net-neutrality regulations. When the FCC repealed net neutrality in 2018, advocates claimed that without these rules, innovation would cease and access would suffer. But the opposite has occurred: more services are available at faster speeds than ever before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our broadband networks proved remarkably robust, supporting a massive shift to remote work and school. U.S. networks also outperformed those in many countries with net-neutrality rules. These facts demonstrate that heavy-handed regulation is not needed to preserve a free and open internet.

Moreover, the FCC does not have clear authority from Congress to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service or to impose utility-style regulations. As the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear through its “major questions” doctrine, federal agencies cannot make major regulatory moves without explicit authorization from Congress. Regulating net neutrality involves complex economic and political considerations that Congress has actively debated, without granting the FCC power to resolve them. Any attempt by the FCC to adopt net-neutrality rules through reclassification would likely be struck down by the Supreme Court as exceeding the agency’s authority. Rather than wasting time and resources pursuing legally dubious regulations, the FCC should allow Congress to legislate on this major policy issue.

To schedule an interview with Kristian about the FCC’s planned regulations, contact ICLE Media and Communications Manager Elizabeth Lincicome at [email protected] or (919) 744-8087.