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Stearns Counters FCC With Internet Bill

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The battle lines over who in the government should regulate the Internet are being drawn.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), ranking member of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee Tuesday (May 11) countered the Federal Communications Commission's proposal to reclassify the Internet with a bill that puts oversight for any regulation back in Congress.

The Internet Investment, Innovation, and Competition Preservation Act, would require the FCC to conduct a rigorous market analysis before mandating new network regulations. In addition, the FCC would need to prove that there was a market failure that warranted regulatory intervention. Before the FCC could take any steps, the findings would need to be reported to Congress.

"I see no need for Internet regulation. Yet, if there is ever a cause for regulation, it is a decision to be made by Congress, not the FCC," Stearns said.

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski suggested that the Internet be reclassified as a Title II service, allowing the Commission to impose regulations in the wake of the recent Comcast court decision that ruled the FCC lacked authority. The case was seen as a major impediment to the FCC's plan to speed broadband access in the U.S.

Stearns and others have questioned the need and authority of the FCC to interfere in what they see is an already vibrant marketplace.

"It is important to note that broadband is an information service outside the reach of Title II," Stearns said in a statement. "Net regulation will discourage investment and innovation precisely when we need it most, especially in light of our push to increase broadband deployment. The FCC should not stand in the way of Internet innovation and expansion."