Department of the Internet

New FCC rules spell government takeover

More government control, tax hikes and a stop to innovation online - that's how opponents of President Obama's call for so-called net neutrality described the FCC vote Thursday to regulate the internet under federal law.

Net neutrality is the concept that no service or website is given priority, or special pricing, over others by internet service providers. While that idea has backers from all sides of the political spectrum, the move to classify internet service as a public utility similar to home phone service is seen by many as a death knell to the culture of fast-moving innovation online.

Speaking on CNBC ahead of the FCC's vote, tech entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said government regulation of the web changes everything.

“If you love the Internet the way you know it today, this is what you’re going to have for a long time. But, if you’re like me, and you think the best is yet to come, then you don’t want the FCC involved because of all the uncertainty,” Cuban said.

Dissenting FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who called the new rules a solution in search of a problem, warned that with net service now deemed a public utility, governments will look to take a cut.

"Read my lips. More Internet taxes are coming. It's just a matter of when," Commissioner Pai said.

Currently the Internet Tax Freedom Act bans taxes on internet access, but that law expires later this year.

The massive change in how the internet is classified and regulated comes without Congress being consulted. FCC Tom Wheeler rejected calls to testify before Congress ahead of Thursday's vote.

In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama argued that the FCC could not issue new and sweeping rules without first speaking to lawmakers.

“Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy," Obama said at the time.  

On Thursday the president, who publicly campaigned for the FCC to makes these changes, released a message thanking his supporters for joining him in campaigning.

"More than 4 million people wrote in to the FCC, overwhelmingly in favor of a free and fair internet," the statement read.

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