With the ambition to monitor the problematic control being extended over the internet by the Biden administration, House Republicans are presenting a joint resolution that holds a critical view of the newly implemented ‘digital discrimination’ rules. This measure is being seen as a forceful intervention from the federal government.
The disapproval resolution using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), is championed by Republican Representatives Andrew Clyde and Buddy Carter hailing from Georgia. Their action has gained support from 65 House Republicans and is focusing on the recently enacted digital fairness guidelines by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced as part of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
These latest measures from the FCC, which Republicans stand in opposition to, are geared towards digital impartiality and are perceived by many as an attempt by the Biden administration to broaden its influence over the internet. Rep. Clyde, one of the leading voices against these measures, expressed in a statement, ‘Under what is deceptively termed ‘equity’, the Biden Administration aims to extend the scope of federal governmental control over all internet services.’
According to him, the FCC’s ‘digital discrimination’ policy grants unbridled authority to the bureaucracy, causing potential innovation hurdles, unnecessary burdens for consumers, and potentially, curtailing free expression on the web.
Rep. Clyde continues, citing the Biden administration’s previous instances of harnessing governmental agencies in a concerning manner against the American audience. He stresses, ‘It’s paramount that Congress steps in to prevent this unwarranted power consolidation.’ This disapproval resolution utilizing the provisions of the CRA allows Congress members to express objections to administrative regulations. The aim is to prevent the introduction of new rules that many view as undermining key democratic principles.
The target of the Republicans’ disapproval is the digital equity rule package ratified by the commission on Nov. 15, which was put into action starting Jan. 15. The goal of these rules, according to the provisions contained in Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Bill, is to avert any form of digital bias related to access to broadband services based on income, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. The FCC’s intention is to protect consumers by explicitly addressing any corporate policies that could potentially disrupt consumer access to broadband internet services, and to ensure equitable broadband deployment, network enhancements, and servicing across all communities.
Nevertheless, the rule package has drawn sharp criticism, as some believe it may inadvertently broaden the so-called ‘digital divide.’ This term refers to the disparity in access to digital technology based on various demographic factors. Detractors argue that by attempting to implement their ideological stance through intrusive governmental controls, the Biden Administration is inevitably going to exacerbate this divide.
Rep. Carter, known for co-leading the resolution, expressed to Fox News Digital: ‘Once again, the Biden administration is aiming to impose its beliefs using overbearing governmental controls.’ He adds that the FCC’s intention to implement wide-ranging regulations on all aspects of our internet’s functionality will most likely exacerbate the digital divide by discouraging future investment in broadband deployments.
Carter also believes this move not only undermines constitutional principles but also contradicts the fundamental tenets of free-market capitalism. His call to action is clear: ‘Congress must thwart the FCC’s overreaching authoritarianism.’
The initiative put forward by the House Republicans has attracted support from numerous external entities, such as Heritage Action for America, Americans for Tax Reform, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), and Americans for Prosperity, among others. TPA’s President David Williams, lending his support, believes the FCC’s order on digital discrimination is an unwarranted extension of governmental power into broadband networks.
His shared sentiment is that it solves no existing problems. He expressed, ‘This standard, neglecting many economic factors that influence market decisions, will inevitably lead to regulators directing companies to revise their policies based on their customers’ racial background. We implore everyone to stand with Rep. Carter’s disapproval resolution and hold the FCC accountable for this unnecessary proposal.’
A stern voice against the digital discrimination rules, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, termed them as an audacious power extension of the government. Back in November, even before these rules were ratified, he had expressed concern. Carr argued that such rules grant the federal government an unhealthy level of influence over internet services and infrastructure. He worried that these measures would allow for a troubling amount of federal oversight on numerous aspects of how the Internet operates, from where providers can build infrastructure, to services consumers can purchase, and even how much profit ISPs can make.
Carr continued, raising concern over the extent to which the rules would grant control to the federal government. ‘To say this is ‘central planning’ is an understatement,’ he argued. ‘I stand against President Biden’s plan.’ Despite the objections from Carr and other critics, the Biden Administration highlighted their aim to level the playing field when it comes to high-speed internet access.
Previously responding to Carr’s comments in November, White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson defended President Biden’s plan stating, ‘President Biden believes in every child’s right to access the internet for homework, without having to resort to accessing the Wi-Fi from a fast food restaurant. Therefore, he has worked alongside Democrats and Republicans alike to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure each American has access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.’
The resolution initiated by House Republicans, anticipated to be filed soon, will need to traverse the House and Democrat-controlled Senate before landing on Biden’s desk. The future of these measures remains in flux and depend largely on whether this legislature can gather sufficient support to pass. Whether an agreement among lawmakers can be reached regarding the handling of digital discrimination and equity remains to be seen, as arguments continue to unfold and positions remain divided.
The next movement of this political chess game will most certainly involve anticipatory moves, balances of power, and the laws that govern the operation of the digital networks that have become a backbone to our society. As the situation evolves, various stakeholders will undoubtedly continue to push their perspectives and influence the trajectory of these rules.
The FCC and White House were contacted by Fox News Digital for additional details and perspective to fill out the narrative landscape. Presently, the material for this episode in the interplay of governance and technology continues to be written, with developments anticipated on the horizon. This joint resolution is but one brushstroke in the vast canvas of legislation aimed toward a fair and balanced digital realm.
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