Thune Talks Title II at Senate Press Conference

Says Reclassification Would Set a 'Very Bad' Precedent

Title II got some prime C-SPAN time Tuesday (Feb. 24) as Republican leaders stepped up to the mic to talk about their priorities.

At a press conference held by various Republican senators who outlined those priorities as well as their problems with the administration, Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke about Title II and his network-neutrality bill that would invalidate the FCC's planned reclassification of Internet service providers as telecommunications providers under some of those common-carrier regulations.

In the press conference, which was carried by C-SPAN, Thune said if the FCC votes Feb. 26 to impose Ttitle II regs, "the Internet is going to be subject to the heavy hand of regulation as opposed to the light touch that has been utilized for so long." He said he hoped the date would not go down in history as the day when the Internet moved from "something that was driven by free-market innovation to something that was driven by bureaucratic decisionmaking."

Thune said the process that produces the rules will have a been a very partisan, nontransparent process.

He said a better alternative to Title II reclassification is the bill he has been working on. That bill would prevent the FCC from imposing Title II, but would also explicitly prohibit practices targeted by the FCC and net-neutrality advocates.

"It is only six pages long and prevents many of the things the FCC says they want to prevent: paid prioritization, blocking and throttling," but does not give the FCC "carte blanche authority to do whatever they want when it comes to regulation of the Internet," Thune said.

Thune called reclassification a "very bad precedent and one that doesn't have to happen." He said he had told the president, the FCC and Hill Democrats that he was willing to work with them on a solution that can address problems that "perhaps are out there," but without "ceding to the FCC unlimited authority to do whatever they want and put at great risk and in jeopardy something that has been an incredible success story for this country and the world."