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Wittman Votes Against Government Takeover of the Internet

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Washington, April 10, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Wittman voted against H.R. 1644, a bill introduced by House Democrats to allow for a government takeover of the Internet.

“This bill would impose burdensome regulations that could lead to delays in the deployment of new innovative technologies, such as 5G wireless networks, stifling rural broadband deployment and decreasing investment in broadband infrastructure across the country,” said Wittman. “We should be working on bipartisan solutions that will further ensure that hard-working Americans in rural, unserved areas can access the internet, not further widen the digital divide.”

Currently almost 50% of rural Virginians lack access to high speed internet and 29% don’t have any internet service at all. H.R. 1644 would revert back to the Obama-era Title II regulations based on 1930s-era public utility laws designed to regulate telephone companies. In the two years following the Obama-era order to regulate the Internet under Title II, broadband expenditures dropped over $3 billion annually. Additionally, as a result of heavy-handed regulations of Title II, many smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who often serve rural areas, saw their ability to invest in their networks shrink as costs associated with compliance grew.

Since the repeal of the Title II, download speeds have risen nearly 40 percent, and broadband investments have increased by $2.3 billion. 

“I believe that a free and open internet should be preserved, but heavy-handed, outdated government regulations are not the correct approach,” said Wittman. “We should instead be looking at ways to include edge providers such as Google and Facebook, in the discussion of blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. A permanent, bipartisan legislative solution produced in good faith is the only way to protect consumers, encourage innovation, and preserve an open internet and that is why I’ve cosponsored three bills to do just that.”

Congressman Wittman is a cosponsor of three different bills, based on bipartisan principles, to better secure our internet and expand broadband access to unserved communities in the First District and across the country:

  1. H.R.1101 introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) codifies the FCC’s protections, so they aren’t subject to changing administrations. The bill prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, and requires that ISPs be transparent in their network management practices and prices.
  2. H.R.1006, the Open Internet Act introduced by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) would specifically prohibit blocking lawful content, applications, or services, or prohibit the use of non-harmful devices; and unjustly or unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic.
  3. H.R.1096, the Promoting Internet Freedom and Innovation Act introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (R-WA) bill, would ensure broadband providers publicly disclose accurate information regarding their services; may not block lawful content, applications, services or devices; may not degrade or impair lawful internet traffic regardless of the apps, services or devices a consumer may use; and may not favor certain traffic for a broadband provider’s own benefit.
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