Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

Rep. Hank Johnson stands for the Open Internet

June 20, 2014
Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA) today made the following statement during the hearing on “Net Neutrality: Is Antitrust Law More Effective than Regulation in Protecting Consumers and Innovation?” in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law (RRCAL).  Rep. Johnson is the ranking member of the RRCAL Subcommittee, which exercises jurisdiction over antitrust laws and competition.

“I strongly and unequivocally believe in an Open Internet. 

“Openness goes beyond economic concerns like growth and competition.  Openness embraces our core value as Americans: equality of opportunity.  If our ideas are good enough, they should have a chance. 

“Openness also separates us from closed, autocratic societies that limit the educational and social opportunities of their people.  Look no further than the Great Firewall of China, which has established barriers to free expression, education, and cultural enrichment, and stunted the opportunity and growth of China’s people.

“Undoubtedly, antitrust agencies have certain advantages—like a prosecutorial mindset and a removal from political influence—that make them attractive as regulatory watchdogs for net neutrality.

“The current framework for antitrust law is designed for every kind of business in the world, but is a poor fit for non-economic values like openness and freedom of expression.

“It is also abundantly clear that the remarkable success-stories of the first large Internet startups — Google, Amazon, and Yahoo! — were not written in a regulatory vacuum.  These companies all benefited from a regulatory ecosystem that encouraged the widespread deployment and adoption of broadband Internet.  Indeed, as the D.C. Circuit recognized earlier this year in Verizon v. FCC, regulations that ensure Internet openness have fostered a "virtuous circle" of both social and economic benefits. 

“As an expert agency with eighty years of expertise, the Federal Communications Commission has been at the forefront of crafting regulations that not only encourage growth and competition, but also advance non-economic values like equality of opportunity and fairness.

“I support the FCC’s effort to ensure Internet openness through net neutrality rules.  There are no rules on the books requiring an Open Internet, and that must change.

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