Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and a likely presidential candidate in 2016, weighed in on the FCC’s recent ruling on net neutrality for the first time over the weekend, The Hill reports.
“The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard,” Bush said.
Bush is referring to the 1934 Communications Act, which regulated “interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of national defence.”
The 1934 Communications Act was created because President Roosevelt, as well as lobbyists and state regulators, believed communications technology needed to be monitored and regulated so certain states, carriers, and customers didn’t face price discrimination.
Applying these rules to the internet, the principle of net neutrality says all data needs to be treated equally, regardless of who creates it — it provides a level playing field so new startups and services can actually compete with, and even supplant, established brands. But Bush apparently isn’t a fan of this idea: He thinks President Obama “steamrolled” the FCC into endorsing new rules that treat the internet as a utility, and he thinks the FCC has lost legitimacy over this ruling.
“I hope that Congress acts [to reverse the ruling],” Bush said.
Though the 1934 Communications Act also served as a legal foundation for when new media technologies came along, like TVs and phones, opponents have long believed this act may have actually slowed and delayed the development of new communication technologies. So, while the FCC plans to protect the internet with these new rules, telecom companies, lobbyists, and politicians like Bush will continue to fight the decision for the foreseeable future.
A couple of weeks ago, the FCC voted 3-2 to regulate broadband internet and ban companies from creating “fast lanes” to prioritise some content over others. Major cable companies aren’t happy, and neither are many Republicans that don’t want the government to intervene and regulate the internet.