TECH
12/20/2010 09:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

FCC Commissioner: Net Neutrality A 'Threat To Internet Freedom'

Robert McDowell, a Republican FCC commissioner, penned a blistering critique of the FCC's net neutrality plan in an opinion editorial published in the Wall Street Journal.

Later this week, the FCC is set to vote on net neutrality rules, which would prohibit Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from discriminating in how they handle information traveling over their networks. Both supporters and opponents of net neutrality are unhappy with the FCC's plan, some arguing it is toothless while others asserting that the rules will stifle innovation. Al Franken called the draft regulations "worse than nothing," while McDowell accused FCC leadership of tackling an "imaginary problem."

"On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation," McDowell wrote. "The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter's night for Internet freedom."

He called the proposed net neutrality rules a "threat to Internet freedom," arguing,

Nothing is broken and needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.

As The Hill reports, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's Democratic allies are putting considerable pressure on Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps to vote for the net neutrality plan. "Democrats who support the plan are pushing this message in the media: If Copps doesn't vote for Genachowski's plan, the consequences will reverberate all the way up to the White House. They are arguing that the damage could even hurt President Obama," writes The Hill.