Republican politico's do-not-regulate Net manifesto

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says it's time to block Net neutrality regulations and rein in government: "Here is the first opportunity for conservatives to make a stand."

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says it's time to block Net neutrality regulations and rein in government. Declan McCullagh/CNET

WASHINGTON--A prominent Republican politician today laid out a new conservative manifesto: How not to regulate the Internet.

"We must defend against Washington's instinct to hyper-regulate all that is new and imperfectly understood," Rep. Marsha Blackburn said at the State of the Net conference here this morning.

The Tennessee representative, vice chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee and a member of the House panel with jurisdiction over Internet regulation, said one of the new Republican majority's priorities would be repealing Net neutrality rules. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to approve them.

"Where Congress fails to lead, bureaucracy rushes in," she said. "Here is the first opportunity for conservatives to make a stand. The free marketplace is a cornerstone of our philosophy of government."

Blackburn acknowledged that conservatives have been too focused on the details of technology, and have been viewed as jumping reflexively to the defense of large corporate interests. The FCC's Net neutrality vote should be a "wake-up call" prompting conservatives--she used that word more than "Republicans"--to restate their principles.

Conservatives should apply their "classic defense of free markets and property rights," including reining in the FCC, protecting intellectual property including patents and copyright, and establishing that the "creative economy" is the ascendant economic sector.

Blackburn has introduced a bill, H.R. 96, saying the FCC "shall not propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services." It has 62 co-sponsors and she predicts it'll clear the House of Representatives.

 

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