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U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) has put himself at the front of the “net neutrality” debate with his sponsorship of a bill to block the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the Internet as a telecommunications utility.
The bill introduced May 28 amends the Communications Act of 1934 to limit the authority of the FCC over providers of broadband Internet access service. Mr. Latta is the sole sponsor.
He said his aim is to keep the Internet free of excessive government regulation.
He said classifying the Web as telecommunications under FCC regulation would “heap 80 years of regulatory baggage on broadband providers, restricting their flexibility to innovate and placing them at the mercy of a government agency.”
Critics, including his opponent in the Nov. 5 election for the 5th Congressional District, Robert Fry, say the bill and other initiatives like it are designed to let big-spending telecommunications and cable companies control the Internet and decide which Web sites get moved on the fast track.
Mr. Fry of Toledo said, “Bob Latta supports the idea of a two-tiered Internet — allowing for carriers to make special deals with Web sites they like, and decide who is banished to slow and congested service.”
He pointed to campaign finance reports showing that Mr. Latta has received $320,000 from the communications sector, as reported by opensecrets.org. The technology news site ArsTechnica reported that Mr. Latta received the sixth-highest amount of contributions from the cable industry during 2012 and 2013 in the U.S. House of Representatives, at $51,000. The average for all members of the House was $11,651.
The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Mr. Latta said “regulating the Internet as a public utility is bad for the economy, bad for jobs, and most importantly, bad for consumers.
“I support keeping the Internet open and free and am concerned that Mr. Fry would want to increase the number of government regulations, especially within this vital economic sector, when hardworking Americans are already suffering under nearly $1.9 trillion in regulations each year,” Mr. Latta said.