Recently, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced his intention to roll back the heavy-handed internet regulations that were advanced during the Obama administration known as “Net Neutrality.” Chairman Pai drafted the Restore Internet Freedom Order, which would make the internet subject to Title I of the Communications Act. This will ensure that the web is safely regulated, but also allowed to grow and blossom as it did for decades before the Obama administration changed the rules. The FCC is slated to vote on Pai’s proposal tomorrow.
Many lawmakers on the left are ginning up fear that reclassifying the internet under Title I instead of Title II will change the internet for the worse. If this talking point sounds familiar, it’s because the left has been making it for years. In reality, the internet improved dramatically in the years before the Obama administration’s regulations, and thanks to Chairman Pai’s actions, it will be allowed to continue developing without the threat of Washington bureaucrats standing in the way.
Now, join us on a stroll down memory lane as we look back at some of the many times the left has claimed that not subjecting the internet to Title II of the Communications Act (aka “Net Neutrality”) would “end the internet as we know it.”
2017: NET NEUTRALITY PROPONENTS ARE SAYING THAT REPEALING THE POLICY WILL “END THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT”
On November 21, 2017, Senator Michael Schatz (D-HI) Said The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rolling Back Net Neutrality Would “End The Internet As We Know It.” “Today the FCC has threatened to end the internet as we know it… If adopted, the FCC’s plan will change the way every American gets information, watches movies, listens to music, conducts business, and talks to their families. By repealing basic net neutrality protections, the FCC is handing over full control of the internet to providers, leaving the American people with fewer choices and less access.” (Jonathan Shieber, “FCC Will Vote Whether To Delete Net Neutrality On December 14,” TechCrunch, 11/21/17)
On November 22, 2017, FCC Member Jessica Rosenworcel Wrote That “Wiping Out Net Neutrality Would Have Big Consequences.” “Wiping out net neutrality would have big consequences. Without it, your broadband provider could carve internet access into fast and slow lanes, favoring the traffic of online platforms that have made special payments and consigning all others to a bumpy road. Your provider would have the power to choose which voices online to amplify and which to censor. The move could affect everything online, including the connections we make and the communities we create.” (Jessica Rosenworcel, Opinion, “I’m On The FCC. Please Stop Us From Killing Net Neutrality,” Los Angeles Times, 11/22/17)
- Rosenworcel: “This Is Not The Internet Experience We Know Today.” (Jessica Rosenworcel, Opinion, “I’m On The FCC. Please Stop Us From Killing Net Neutrality,” Los Angeles Times, 11/22/17)
On September 29, 2017, Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps Co-Wrote An Op-Ed Stating Repealing Net Neutrality Could “End The Internet As We Know It.” “One of us is the inventor of the personal computer, and the other a former commissioner at the FCC. We come from different walks of life, but each of us recognizes that the FCC is considering action that could end the Internet as we know it — a dynamic platform for entrepreneurship, jobs, education and free expression.” (Steve Wozniak & Michael Copps, Opinion, “Ending Net Neutrality Will End The Internet As We Know It,” USA Today, 09/29/17)
REALITY CHECK: LAWMAKERS HAVE BEEN USING THIS RHETORIC FOR YEARS
2014 (VIDEO): President Obama Said Proposals To End Net Neutrality Would “End The Internet As We Know It.” “President Obama came out swinging today against proposed measures he said would ‘end the Internet as we know it,’ by allowing service providers to create fast and slow lanes. As protesters gathered outside the house of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, Obama lent his support by issuing a statement and a YouTube video explaining why he supports keeping the Internet open to all equally. ‘Net neutrality has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted,’ Obama said in a statement. ‘We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.’” (Alyssa Newcomb, “Net Neutrality: How President Obama Wants To Rescue The Internet,” ABC News, 11/10/14)
2014: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Said That FCC Proposals To Roll Back Net Neutrality Would Be “The End Of The Internet As We Know It.” “The proposal would for the very first time allow Internet service providers the ability to pay for priority treatment… This means the end of net neutrality and the end of the Internet as we know it.” (Ramsey Cox, “Sanders: FCC’s Net Neutrality Proposal ‘Grotesquely Unfair,’” The Hill, 05/20/14)
2014: Senators Al Franken (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY.), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) Cosigned A Letter Stating That Any Threats To Net Neutrality “Could Fundamentally Alter The Internet As We Know It.” (Letter To Honorable Tom Wheeler: Chairman Of The Federal Communication Commission, Senator Ed Markey, 07/15/14)
2011: Former Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) Said A Proposed Resolution To Prohibit The FCC’s Regulation Of The Internet Would “End The Internet As We Know It And Threaten The Jobs, Investment And Prosperity That The Internet Has Brought To America.” “Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, warned of dire consequences should the resolution be approved. ‘This is a bill that will end the Internet as we know it and threaten the jobs, investment and prosperity that the Internet has brought to America,’ Mr. Waxman said.” (Edward Watt, “House Votes Against ‘Net Neutrality,’” The New York Times, 04/08/11)
2011: Senator Al Franken (D-MN) Said The Goal Of Net Neutrality Is “About Keeping The Internet The Way It Is Today And The Way It Has Always Been.” “Most Democrats, including Obama, argue that the regulations are needed to preserve an open Internet as the telecommunications industry becomes more consolidated. ‘Net neutrality is not about a government takeover of the Internet, and it is not about changing anything,’ said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) ‘Net neutrality and the rules the FCC passed are about keeping the Internet the way it is today and the way it has always been.’” (Jim Puzzanghera, “Senate Rejects Attempt To Overturn FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules,” Los Angeles Times, 11/10/11)
2011: Senator Al Franken (D-MN) Stressed The Importance Of Net Neutrality Stating, Big Telecoms Companies Are “Hoping To Destroy” The Internet. “Sen. Al Franken claimed Monday that big corporations are “hoping to destroy” the Internet and issued a call to arms to several hundred tech-savvy South by Southwest attendees to preserve net neutrality. ‘I came here to warn you, the party may be over,’ Franken said. ‘They’re coming after the Internet hoping to destroy the very thing that makes it such an important for independent artists and entrepreneurs: its openness and freedom.’ Net neutrality, he added, is ‘the First Amendment issue of our time.’” (Mike Zalper, “Franken: They’re ‘After The Internet,’”POLITICO, 03/14/11)
2011: Former Senator John Kerry (D-MA) Wrote That Ending Net Neutrality Would “Stifle Innovation And Discourage Investment In The Next Potential Google Or Amazon.” “‘The Senate will consider a Congressional Review Act proposal to overturn the Open Internet protections that the Federal Communications Commission put into place last year,’ wrote Kerry. The FCC passed the rules in a party-line vote in December 2010 to regulate Internet Service Providers. If the vote is not passed in the Senate to overturn the rules, they are set to take effect on November 20. Kerry urged colleagues to vote against the legislation, claiming that ‘if the effort is successful, it will stifle innovation and discourage investment in the next potential Google or Amazon.’” (Josh Peterson, “Democrats Rally Support Against Republican Bid To Overturn FCC Net Neutrality Rules,” The Daily Caller, 11/04/17)
2009: While Campaigning For Net Neutrality, Former FCC Democratic Chairman Julius Genachowski Said “This Is Not About Protecting The Internet Against Imaginary Dangers. We’re Seeing The Breaks And Cracks Emerge.” “This is not about protecting the Internet against imaginary dangers. We’re seeing the breaks and cracks emerge, and they threaten to change the Internet’s fundamental architecture of openness.” (“Prepared Remarks Of Chairman Julius Genachowski,” Business Insider, 09/21/09)
- Chairman Genachowski Said Without Net Neutrality, “Opportunities For Innovators, Content Creators, And Small Businesses Around The Country,” Would Shrink And “Full And Free Expression The Internet Promises” Would Be Limited. “This would shrink opportunities for innovators, content creators, and small businesses around the country, and limit the full and free expression the Internet promises. This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late.” (“Prepared Remarks Of Chairman Julius Genachowski,” Business Insider, 09/21/09)
- Chairman Genachowski Said A Lack Of Net Neutrality Policy “Would Impose Its Own Form Of Unacceptable Cost,” And “Would Deprive Innovators And Investors Of Confidence.” “Saying nothing — and doing nothing — would impose its own form of unacceptable cost. It would deprive innovators and investors of confidence that the free and open Internet we depend upon today will still be here tomorrow. It would deny the benefits of predictable rules of the road to all players in the Internet ecosystem. And it would be a dangerous retreat from the core principle of openness — the freedom to innovate without permission — that has been a hallmark of the Internet since its inception, and has made it so stunningly successful as a platform for innovation, opportunity, and prosperity.” (“Prepared Remarks Of Chairman Julius Genachowski,” Business Insider, 09/21/09)
2009: Then-Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) Wrote That Net Neutrality Was Needed To Protect The Genius Of The Internet. “That has always been the genius of the Internet’s architecture. But that genius is now under attack – threatened by the prospect that corporations will seek to erect roadblocks on the information superhighway, charging telecommunications tolls every time you visit your favorite website or blog or even watch a video clip. Some corporations are now seeking to provide fast Internet speeds only to those who can afford to pay. Such a two-tiered system would be a radical, wrong-headed departure from the Internet’s historic rules of the road and a new financial burden on consumers.” (Representative Ed Markey, Opinion, “Time For Net Neutrality,” The Hill, 10/30/09)
- Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) On Net Neutrality: “I strongly believe that we must enshrine basic principles of openness and fairness into the rules governing how Internet service providers operate – giving the FCC the authority to be the proverbial cop on the cyber beat, to ensuring that these principles of freedom and competition are upheld in the marketplace. In this way we can preserve the best of what the Internet is even as it continues to evolve.” (Representative Ed Markey, Opinion, “Time For Net Neutrality,” The Hill, 10/30/09)
- Representative Ed Markey (D-MA): “[N]ow Is The Time To Rise Up To Defend Internet Freedom… The Future Of The Internet May Depend Upon It. (Representative Ed Markey, Opinion, “Time For Net Neutrality,” The Hill, 10/30/09)
2006: In A Podcast Promoting Net Neutrality Principles, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Said “Big Telephone And Cable Companies Want To Change The Internet As We Know It.” “The topic today is net neutrality. The internet today is an open platform where the demand for websites and services dictates success. You’ve got barriers to entry that are low and equal for all comers. And it’s because the internet is a neutral platform that I can put on this podcast and transmit it over the internet without having to go through some corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship. I don’t have to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the internet as we know it.” (Transcript For Senator Barack Obama’s Podcast, Daily Kos, 06/08/06)
2006: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Said Ending Net Neutrality Is Allowing “Powerful Interests” To “Take Control Of The Internet Away From Their Consumers.” “The powerful interests that control the pipes are trying to take control of the Internet away from their consumers by creating discriminatory networks that play favorites… Over the past decade, Oregon businesses, consumers, and political activists have come to rely on the Internet as a free and open forum to buy, sell or simply exchange ideas. We can’t afford to let discrimination rule the Internet, which is why I’ll continue fighting to ensure Net Neutrality.” (Press Release, “Oregon Speaks Out For Net Neutrality,” Senator Ron Wyden, 12/06/06)
2006: Former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Introduced The 2006 Internet Preservation Act To Protect The “Internet’s Growth So Far” And “Its Continued Success In The Future.” “The Internet’s open architecture allows access to the Internet for everyone equally… That access has been the cornerstone of the Internet’s growth so far, and is vital to its continued success in the future. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act will ensure that the right to participate in the internet remains free and available to all, so that the innovation, economic opportunities, and consumer benefits it makes possible, will continue to flourish.” (Stokely Baksh, “Net Neutrality Lives On In Congress,” United Press International, 05/25/06)
2006: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Opposed The Telecommunications Reauthorization Bill Saying That Without A Clear Policy Preserving The Neutrality Of The Internet, The Internet Would Be Forever Changed For The Worse. “Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse.” (Press Release, “Wyden Blocks Telecom Legislation Over Ineffective Net Neutrality Provision,” Senator Ron Wyden, 12/06/08)
2005: Former Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) Said Net Neutrality Is The Only Way “The Internet Remains Open And Seamless.” “While I think the draft broadly strikes the right balance regarding municipal networks, the scope of permissible regulation of Internet applications and video franchising, I have concerns about the way the draft addresses network neutrality. This provision needs additional work. Following the Brand X decision and an FCC rulemaking, it is now clear that broadband platform providers need not accommodate unaffiliated Internet access providers. In the absence of that open access for unaffiliated ISPs, the need for a firm network neutrality provision is all the more apparent. It will be our only assurance that the Internet remains open and seamless as we expect it to be, and as the full utilization of that medium requires that it be.” (Hearing Transcript, “Internet Protocol And Broadband Services Legislation,” House Committee On Energy And Commerce, 110/9/05)
2004: Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps Said The Internet Was At Risk Without Government Intervention Stating, “This Internet May Not Be The One We Know In The Future.” “While there’s no push to adopt a network neutrality policy in Congress, the concept has generated debate at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in recent months. In February, FCC Chairman Michael Powell advocated ‘four freedoms’ for Internet users, including the freedom to access content and to use applications, but he advocated a market-driven approach instead of a national policy. But others say the Internet is at risk without government intervention. ‘This Internet may not be the one we know in the future,’ said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, speaking at the forum Friday. ‘There are threats to it out there… Entrenched interests are already jockeying to constrain the openness that has been the Internet’s defining hallmark, and they are lobbying the FCC to aid and abet them.’” (Gran Gross, “Broadband Network Neutrality: Advocates Push For Policy,” Network World, 03/26/04)
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