“This Report and Order would take the next step in the Commission’s efforts to promote equal access to broadband internet access service, a service that is critical to virtually every aspect of life in our country and to the U.S. economy,” the report says.
The report adds that it aims to prevent “digital discrimination of access to [broadband internet access] based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion and national origin.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr condemned the Biden administration’s push for internet equity.
“Congress never contemplated the sweeping regulatory regime that President Biden asked the FCC to adopt—let alone authorized the agency to implement it,” Carr said in a statement.
“The FCC reserves the right under this plan to regulate both ‘actions and omissions, whether recurring or a single instance,'” the statement adds. “In other words, if you take any action, you may be liable, and if you do nothing, you may be liable. There is no path to complying with this standardless regime. It reads like a planning document drawn up in the faculty lounge of a university’s Soviet Studies Department.”
“After nearly two years and several rounds of comments, the FCC’s draft order concludes that ‘there is little or no evidence’ in the agency’s record to even indicate that there has been any intentional discrimination in the broadband market within the meaning of the statute. But instead of proceeding with forward-looking rules on that basis, the FCC—at President Biden’s direction—reads an expansive and disfavored theory of liability into the law that exists nowhere in the statutory text,” Carr said.
Before the vote, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) led the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in writing a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, stating, “Your Draft Order, which largely follows a Biden administration diktat, will create crippling uncertainty for the U.S. broadband industry, chill broadband investment, and undermine Congress’s objective of promoting broadband access for all Americans. We urge you to adhere to the will of Congress and conform to the plain meaning of [the bipartisan infrastructure bill] to avoid causing serious damage to the competitive and innovative U.S. broadband industry.”
“The idea these regulations will not impact rural deployment defies credulity: If practically every business decision is subject to potential liability, companies will inevitably shift resources that would have otherwise been spent on deployment and innovation to hiring more lawyers and asking the FCC ‘mother-may-I,'” the letter adds. “Your Draft Order’s sweeping scope, ambiguous, open-ended guidance, extensive enforcement framework, and expansive claimed remedial authority, would prevent providers from making such decisions without risking endless complaints and potential liability untethered from the statute’s objectives.”