Letter from Senator Tim Scott on Net Neutrality

As is my habit, I publish the form letters I receive from my elected representatives. On that front, Net Neutrality is the gift that keeps on giving – if you enjoy letters that don’t say anything – such as this missive from Senator Tim Scott. My general interpretation of this is that while Senator Scott is generally in favor of Net Neutrality, he is not going to spend any political capital flexing his muscles on behalf of the FCC’s reach or to push Congress to define internet service providers as common carriers. Thanks to rules about local internet service providers, the diversity of competition, which is key to Senator Scott’s hope for the future, has been decreasing, especially for those of us living in small towns in South Carolina.

Dear Mr. Witten,

Thank you for contacting me regarding net neutrality. I appreciate your perspective on this important issue and the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

The issue of net neutrality has become a focal point of the debate on telecommunications reform in recent years, following the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 decision to regulate Internet network access with its Open Internet Order, commonly known as net neutrality. As you are aware, Verizon filed a lawsuit challenging this regulation on the grounds that the Commission is not authorized to apply the same regulations to Internet service providers as it does to public industries like land-line telephone companies. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently ruled in favor of Verizon, affirming that the Commission may not issue regulations that would force broadband providers to treat all content equally because Congress has not defined Internet service providers as “common carriers,” like phone companies.

In response, Chairman Wheeler has proposed new rules on net neutrality, and the Commission voted in May to open a new rulemaking procedure to consider his proposal. In particular, the proposal includes a transparency rule that would require network operators to disclose how they manage Internet traffic, a “no blocking” rule that would prevent unfair blocking, and a non-discrimination rule that would prevent Internet service providers from blocking or degrading content.

Please know that I understand your concerns with this issue. The Internet is a vital tool for commerce and communications in modern society, and like you, I do not want to see Internet access become any less competitive or more costly. Therefore, it is important to that we continue to leave the Internet as free from regulation as possible, to encourage innovation and growth. I believe competition among cable and wireline Internet providers, along with developing technologies like satellite and wireless, will discourage discriminatory action by providers against Internet content. Further, the Commission still maintains the ability to pursue violations of anti-discrimination laws. Rest assured, I am committed to efforts to increase competition, accessibility, and innovation in the telecommunications industry, and will continue to follow this issue closely as the Commission considers revised net neutrality rules.

Again, thank you for sharing your perspective with me; I hope that you will continue to do so in the future. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of my staff.

For more information, please visit my website at www.scott.senate.gov and subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorTimScott and Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenatorTimScott for daily updates.

Sincerely,
Tim Scott
United States Senator

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