Spitfire Strategies

Same Song, Different Day: Last Ditch Efforts from Republicans to Smear Real Net Neutrality

A day before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed net neutrality rules, House Republicans attempt what’s been reported as a last ditch effort to smear real net neutrality.

During two hearings, one held by the Energy and Telecommunications Subcommittee and the other by the Oversight and Government Reform committee, the GOP will recycle the same myths about the Chairman’s proposed rules that have repeatedly been debunked by journalists, companies, experts and advocates.  

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Investment
Arguably the biggest opponent of net neutrality Verizon, had this to say about investment in December 2014 , “I mean to be real clear, I mean [Title II] does not influence the way we invest. I mean we’re going to continue to invest in our networks and our platforms, both in Wireless and Wireline FiOS and where we need to. So nothing will influence that. [W]e were born out of a highly regulated company, so we know how this operates.” This clear declaration on investments came from Francis Shammo, Verizon EVP and CFO. Additionally, several big telecommunications and tech companies including T-Mobile, Sprint and Twitter have said Title II won’t harm investment.

Sprint’s chief technology officer, Stephen Bye went so far as saying, “we really don’t see this [Title II with the appropriate forbearance] as negative for the industry at all.”

On Monday, Twitter wrote in a blog post, “Smart Internet policies in the U.S., including net neutrality principles, have spawned innovation, investment, and job creation – a “virtuous circle” of innovation driving user adoption, leading to network investment, leading to inevitable continued innovation. This in turn has enabled the worldwide connectivity of millions of users as well as businesses and nonprofits large and small. The continuation of this wildly successful Internet policy approach is vital.”

2. Support from Americans Grassroots  vs. Company Money
A record number of everyday Americans, organizations and social movements have joined forces, filing comments (1 million messages have been submitted to the FCC or Congress since the beginning of 2015 ) and engaging in rallies, marches and online actions. This is in addition to the millions of pro-net neutrality comments filed in 2014. According to Politico, opponents such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have spent a combined $44.2 million to lobby Washington on a host of issues last year, with net neutrality among their top agenda items.

3. Support from Republican constituencies
A recent poll conducted by Vox Populi and the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA) found that 80 percent of Republicans either strongly or somewhat agree with FCC Chairman Wheeler’s stated intent “to propose rules that say that no blocking (is allowed), no throttling, no paid prioritization.” Another poll found that Republicans chose the FCC over Congress as the body best fit to regulate the Internet by a 2:1 ratio.

4. Input from the President  
It is normal custom and expected for the White House to voice its opinion on important FCC proceedings, as Republican presidents have done before and as President Obama did for net neutrality. Republican FCC commissioner and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai and other opponents are misrepresenting the facts. The Reagan and George W. Bush White Houses both commented on media-ownership rules during their time in office.

5. Taxes
The Washington Post, gave the fear-mongering projections about taxes and Title II authority 3 Pinnochios. The fact checker reporter said plainly Title II may result in “state charges and fees, but there is no proof that all of the current fees on telephone services would apply again to Internet services.”
Congress shouldn’t get in the way of a historic public process at the FCC that has engaged more than four million Americans from across the political spectrum. Congress should stop protecting big telecom and start protecting the Internet for all Americans.

“This is a truly transformative program and there is no question that it is preparing leaders to be courageous communicators.”

- Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, The National Steinbeck Center

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