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Rethinking internet policy will boost connected economy

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's announcement that he will seek to restore U.S. innovation policy to the modern, bipartisan approach that has guided the internet's growth and evolution in our country for more than two decades is a huge win for consumers, our connected economy and our digital democracy. It's also a win for the argument that our technology policy must be as smart and nimble as the internet it governs.

Here's why the Pai's plan is heading in the right direction:

  • Consumers concerned about net neutrality will have the security of clean, clear and enforceable rules to safeguard our online freedoms.
  • Consumers concerned about online privacy will get exactly what they consistently say they want: One high standard of protections that applies uniformly across the internet—broadband providers, yes, but everyone online, including search, social media and commerce companies.
  • The FCC will no longer do the bidding of special interests intent on seeing the agency "save" consumers from the obvious scourge of getting free and discounted stuff online.
  • And, because this progress can be achieved without the government turning the internet into a utility, future broadband investment does not have to be held back by carbon-dated regulations written in the same year American families first gathered around the radio to hear FDR's fireside chats.

Two years after Title II was enacted, FDR bravely told the nation, "we have nothing to fear, but fear itself." Today, Chairman Pai helped wake our country from a bizarre, two-year fever dream of a policy detour governed entirely by fear and misinformation.

Nothing about the Internet was broken when the prior FCC leadership caved to intense political pressure to "save the Internet" by imposing regulations written during the Great Depression.

From the internet's earliest days, President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress saw the abundance that might come if we worked together to stoke an American-led century of innovation. Our digital economy has delivered. And, this progressive and modern approach has had truly transformative impacts for our families and communities.

We can't stop now.

Our common task is to craft policies that dare to envision once again a U.S. innovation future that focuses on abundance rather than austerity—a future where competition is thriving, jobs are growing and American consumers continue to have both the net neutrality we demand and the thriving, innovative broadband experience we deserve.

Chairman Pai started from the right place, asking "what policies will give the American people what they want?" He should be commended for standing with so many great U.S. policymakers, innovators and consumers for the modern, bipartisan principles that have made American broadband the envy of the world.

Jonathan Spalter is President and CEO of USTelecom.