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Walden: We believe in net neutrality. But, net neutrality is not Title II


WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) will deliver the following opening remarks today at a Subcommittee on Communications and Technology markup of H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act of 2019.”

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Chairman, congratulations on drawing the short straw to hold the first markup of the 116th Congress at Energy and Commerce.

I’d just like to reiterate here at the beginning that I remain committed to a bipartisan solution to preserving a free and open internet. I believe it is achievable and I want to express to my friends on the other side of the aisle that our offers to work together are genuine and have been made in good faith.

However, as the majority has decided to move forward with this legislation before us today, we therefore must do our due diligence. Members and the public need to fully understand the implications of the approach taken under this legislation, the scope of what it entails, and the impact it could have on consumers.

The net neutrality “bright line” rules are simple and relatively easy to understand. No blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization. But despite whatever talking points you may have heard, Title II is not
necessary to preserve a free and open internet. In fact, quite the opposite – Title II could provide the federal government near unlimited and unchecked authority to regulate the internet.

Today, we need to fully consider some of the potential legal and policy questions surrounding the actual effects of this legislation and Title II.

Does this bill empower the FCC to dictate where and when new broadband networks can, or must, be deployed?

Will this bill provide the authority for a government takeover and management of private networks?

Will this bill allow government taxation of the internet?

Could it lead to government regulation of speech on the internet?

Americans are more and more concerned about the role tech companies play in the information age. We read about how content gets blocked, prioritized, or shadow banned. Constituents are concerned about the impact of paid prioritization on their ability to compete online. We increasingly see their inability to curb harmful and illicit behavior online, while they monetize our personal information. Meanwhile they get special protection under Section 230 as if they were a common carrier, but they are not covered by the net neutrality rules we’re considering today. What, if anything, does this bill do to protect consumers from abuses?

We need to get to the bottom of these questions and more today.

The fact is, we can permanently address blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization in a bipartisan way because we all believe in an open and free internet. We believe in net neutrality. But, net neutrality is not Title II. Net neutrality does not need the harmful, heavy-handed approach of Title II. All it needs is a Congress willing to work together on a solution.


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