Net neutrality, which requires ISPs to allow all legal content to move through networks uninhibited, has made waves on the Hill since the FCC proposed a rule that would create “fast lanes” for companies that can pay more.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte said the Internet has grown because it is deregulated, but noted companies should not be permitted to engage in “discriminatory or anticompetitive activities.”
“I believe that vigorous application of the antitrust laws can prevent dominant Internet service providers from discriminating against competitors’ content or engaging in anticompetitive pricing practices,” the Virginia Republican said. “Furthermore, antitrust laws can be applied uniformly to all Internet market participants, not just to Internet service providers, to ensure that improper behavior is prevented and prosecuted.”
The Republicans’ call for a shift to the FTC is likely spurred by the FCC’s history of questionable commitment to net neutrality, with some criticizing the agency for backtracking on the issue in recent years. In May, Rep. Bob Latta introduced a bill that would “limit” the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet.
During the hearing, both former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell and FTC member Joshua Wright said that antitrust laws were better equipped to promote net neutrality than the FCC.