WSJ Adopts Broadband Lobbyist's Language To Describe Net Neutrality Proposal

net neutrality

The Wall Street Journal adopted the language of net neutrality critics to describe the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality proposal, deeming the new potential rules an “intrusive regulation.”

On January 30, the FCC announced that it would “introduce and vote on new proposed net neutrality rules in February.” Although the official proposal has yet to be released, according to The Huffington Post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “suggested that Internet service... should be regulated like any other public utility.”

In a February 3 article discussing the FCC's plans, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the proposed net neutrality measures would “subject” companies “to more intrusive regulation” (emphasis added):

The move would fully embrace the principle known as net neutrality, and if enacted, would bring a new definition to the economics of the Internet industry: Rather than regulating broadband firms lightly, as has been its practice so far, the FCC would treat them like telecommunications companies and subject them to more intrusive regulation, especially in areas relating to how they manage traffic on their networks.

But The Wall Street Journal's rhetoric is borrowed directly from net neutrality critics who oppose such measures. Later in the same article, a lobbyist for the wireless industry was quoted as calling such a move an “intrusive public utility regulation” (emphasis added):

Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO of CTIA--The Wireless Association, the Washington lobby for the wireless industry, said, “We have significant reservations with any approach that applies intrusive public utility regulation on mobile broadband for the first time, which is why Congress's consideration of net neutrality legislation is the best path forward to provide certainty to all stakeholders.”

In contrast, The New York Times described the coming proposal as a move to regulate “Internet service like a public utility,” noting that it will actually take a less intrusive approach than previous plans. The article explained that Chairman Wheeler “will advocate a light-touch approach” to net neutrality, “shunning the more intrusive aspects of utility-style regulation.”