Republican lawmakers and broadband companies have joined together to decry Thursday’s decision by the FCC to sustain net neutrality for a fair and open Internet. The vote for neutrality passed three to two and was split down the party lines, with the outcome seeing impassioned rebukes from the embittered right and communication companies alike.
Verizon led the pack with an outlandish statement Thursday written in morse code and titled “FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930’s Rules on the Internet.” The communication giant provided a link below the statement with a translated version written in the typeface of an old typewriter and stamped with a 1934 dateline.
This more legible version of the statement retains its antiquated language and theatrical flair, with a company executive calling the FCC’s decision a “radical step that presages a time of uncertain for consumers, innovators and investors.
“The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly unnecessary,” said Michael Glover, Verizon’s senior vice president, public policy and government affairs. “The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-plus pages of broad and open-ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.”
AT&T also released a statement authored by Senior Executive Vice President Jim Cicconi expressing hope that “other voices of reason will emerge; voices who recognize that animosity, exaggeration, demonization and fear-mongering are not a basis on which to make wise national policies.”
Marsha Blackburn, Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, drafted a statement of her own, slamming the vote as a “trojan horse for a government takeover of the Internet” and calling it “the Obama Internet plan.” Blackburn teamed up with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to introduce legislation that would block the decision in their respective states hours after the vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to be more angry with Obama than anyone else about Thursday’s outcome, writing in a statement that “the Obama administration needs to get beyond its 1930s rotary-telephone mindset and embrace the future.”
Former FCC Commissioner Michael Powell alleged in a statement that “the Commission has breathed new life into the decayed telephone regulatory model and applied it to the most dynamic, free-wheeling and innovative platform in history.” Powell was appointed to the FCC by Bill Clinton and became chairman of the commission under George W. Bush. He is currently President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the largest trade and lobbyist organization of its kind.
John McCain tweeted on Thursday that the Internet shouldn’t be “regulated by federal bureaucrats,” and threatened the reversal of the vote in a statement claiming that Congress will “carefully consider and correct” the decision.
Twenty-one other Republicans joined forces to send FCC chairman Tom Wheeler an angry letter expressing their “deep disappointment” with the decision. “We will not stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet,” the letter read. The group threatened to introduce legislature that “may include a restriction on the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet.” Co-signers of that letter include Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on a subcommittee that oversees Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.