Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee and member of the Senate Commerce Committee, is joined by Senators Orrin Hatch (R- Utah), John Ensign (R-Nevada), John Thune (R- South Dakota), Tom Coburn (R- Oklahoma), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) in introducing the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act (FCC Act). This legislation, based on language from Sen. DeMint's 2005 Digital Age Communications Act (DACA), is intended to institute needed, market-based reforms to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rulemaking authority.
"The FCC's rush to takeover the Internet is just the latest example of the need for fundamental reform to protect consumers," said Senator DeMint. "Congress must pass the FCC Act to protect consumer choice in media services, preserve competition that drives down costs and drives up options, and prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs that the free market Internet economy has created.
"President Obama's handpicked FCC chairman is attempting to impose unnecessary, antiquated regulations on the Internet in spite of court rulings limiting the FCC's authority, against bipartisan congressional concern over damaging economic consequences, and without any evidence of market failure. The FCC Act will ensure that the FCC properly uses its rulemaking authority to respond to clear cases of competitive market failure that have proven to harm consumers, and this principle should be the starting point for any debate on Internet governance."
The Freedom for Consumer Choice Act would require the FCC to prove consumers are being substantially harmed by a lack of marketplace choice before it can impose new regulations, as well as weigh the potential cost of action against any benefits to consumers or competition. The act would also limit the FCC's power by providing timelines for FCC regulatory decisions and sun-setting any regulations after five years, unless the FCC chooses to renew them under the market-based standard.
Senator Hatch said, "Since the FCC has a hard time listening to the American people, we're stepping forward with commonsense legislation to keep these unelected bureaucrats' hands off the Internet. This bill is simple - the FCC would have to demonstrate that consumers won't be harmed if these dangerous and costly "net-neutrality' regulations are put into place. We've heard from people across the country who have said these regulations will destroy innovation, consumer choice, and most importantly jobs. With our nation's unemployment rate just under ten percent and our economy struggling, the Administration should listen to the American people and stop these job-killing rules."
Senator Ensign said, "The last thing that the American people need is for the government to extend its burdensome reach over the Internet. It's important that we pass legislation that will protect the consumer and keep the government out of the free market."
Senator Cornyn said, "This bill protects consumers and those who invest in broadband networks, and ensures that innovations are free of unnecessary federal interference. During this critical time for our economy and American families, this action is vital to maintaining jobs that many Americans already depend on."