Future Tense

If You Thought the Net Neutrality Debate Was Resolved, You Were Impressively Optimistic

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee laying down the law. Or trying to.

Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images

Last week, open-Internet advocates celebrated a victory when the FCC passed protective net neutrality rules. The changes included reclassifying broadband as a utility so the agency would have more authority to regulate telecom companies. But if you thought Repubicans would go quietly on the issue, you’ve been watching too much unthrottled Netflix.

On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee reintroduced the Internet Freedom Act as part of an attempt to stop the FCC from moving forward with its new net neutrality rules. The bill has 19 original co-sponsors and attacks the idea that the FCC decision will lead to a truly open and modern Internet.


In a statement Blackburn said, “These overreaching rules will stifle innovation, [and] restrict freedoms. … Once the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all.”

As Motherboard has noted, Blackburn is one of the legislators who receives the most money from telecom companies.

Blackburn has championed similar bills before, but now that the FCC has had its vote, the version can pointedly address the agency’s latest decision. It says, “The rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission … on February 26, 2015 (relating to broadband Internet access service) shall have no force or effect …” You can’t get much more straightforward about your goals than that.