April 8, 2019

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

RE: Vote on H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act of 2019”

Dear Representative,

We at the R Street Institute (“R Street”) have been writing and speaking about net neutrality for years,[1] including by filing regulatory comments with both the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) on the matter.[2] However, the longstanding regulatory battles over net neutrality are seemingly intractable. For that reason, we have consistently called for Congress to resolve the matter and provide long-term certainty to both industry and consumers by codifying strong net neutrality protections into law through bipartisan legislation.[3]

Unfortunately, H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act of 2019,” is not bipartisan, as it merely seeks to restore the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which was itself politically divisive and passed 3-2 on a party-line vote. Instead of more hyperbole and sloganeering,[4] Americans need genuine compromise and a fresh approach to net neutrality. That is why R Street opposed efforts to simply restore the 2015 Open Internet Order in the previous Congress,[5] and it is why we oppose H.R. 1644 now.

There is significant scholarly debate over the impact that Title II classification has had on network investment,[6] and over the FTC’s ability to adequately safeguard net neutrality.[7] But the core tenets of net neutrality enjoy substantial bipartisan support. Therefore, members of both parties should be able to find common ground and agree upon a bipartisan framework for net neutrality, and R Street has offered several suggestions for them to consider.[8]

While we oppose H.R. 1644, we remain supportive of legislative efforts in this area, and we would be happy to work with members of both parties to craft a bipartisan resolution to the longstanding fight over net neutrality.

Sincerely,

Tom Struble

Manager

Technology and Innovation Policy

Joe Kane

Fellow

Technology and Innovation Policy

Jeff Westling

Associate

Technology and Innovation Policy

Caroline Kitchens

Director

Federal Government Affairs

Kristen Nyman

Associate

Government Affairs


[1] See, e.g., Tom Struble & Joe Kane, “R Sheet on Net Neutrality,” R Street Institute (Feb. 25, 2019), http://bit.ly/2OQVxyN; Joe Kane, “Joe Kane Talks Net Neutrality on Mike Check,” R Street Institute (Dec. 18, 2017), http://bit.ly/2OTEwUp.

[2] See, e.g., Tom Struble & Joe Kane, “Comments of R Street Institute,” In re Restoring Internet Freedom, WC Docket No. 17-108 (July 17, 2017), http://bit.ly/2OQ5wUZ; Tom Struble & Joe Kane, “Reply Comments of R Street Institute,” In re Restoring Internet Freedom, WC Docket No. 17-108 (Aug. 30, 2017), http://bit.ly/2OYISdj; Tom Struble et al., “Comments of R Street Institute,” In re Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century Hearings—Topic 2: Competition and Consumer Protection Issues in Communication, Information, and Media Technology Networks, Docket No. FTC-2018-0049 (Aug. 14, 2018), http://bit.ly/2OYISdj.  

[3] See, e.g., Tom Struble, “Codifying Net Neutrality Through Bipartisan Legislation,” R Street Institute (March 14, 2018), http://bit.ly/2uKcIc6; Tom Struble, “The FCC’s Computer Inquiries: The Origin Story Behind Net Neutrality,” Morning Consult (May 23, 2017), http://bit.ly/2OTEVX5.

[4] See Joe Kane, “Does the Internet Still Exist!?!?!: Fact-checking Net Neutrality Doomsday Predictions,” R Street Institute (June 11, 2018), http://bit.ly/2uT7Q4d.

[5] See Sasha Moss & Tom Struble, “R Street Coalition Letter to Encourage Members to Find a Legislative Solution to Net Neutrality and Not Sign on to the CRA,” R Street Institute (Sept. 18, 2018), http://bit.ly/2uNaU1M.

[6] See, e.g., Joe Kane, “Net Neutrality’s Effect on Investment: It’s Complicated,” R Street Institute (Dec. 12, 2017), http://bit.ly/2ORTVVe.

[7] See, e.g., Roslyn Layton & Tom Struble, “Net Neutrality Without the FCC?: Why the FTC Can Regulate Broadband Effectively,” 18 Fed. Soc. Rev. 132 (2017), http://bit.ly/2OQTL0B.

[8] See, e.g., Tom Struble, “Codifying Net Neutrality Through Bipartisan Legislation,” R Street Institute (March 14, 2018), http://bit.ly/2uKcIc6.