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Eye On Boise

Crapo, 1st CD candidates address net neutrality decision

We asked members of Idaho’s congressional delegation today for their comments on the FCC’s net neutrality decision; Sen. Jim Risch was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment, and neither 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador nor 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson responded. Sen. Mike Crapo said, “I opposed the decision of the FCC to reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility.” That earlier decision, he said, conflicted with “the long-standing policy to keep the Internet as free as possible from regulation. Public utilities heighten the barriers to entry for cable broadband providers because of higher costs, and in doing so, limit the number of competitors that could provide Internet service.  Application innovation could also be discouraged, if, for example, network providers are restricted in the way they manage their networks or are limited in their ability to offer new service packages or formats.”

Crapo, who supported today’s FCC decision to remove Obama-era net neutrality rules, said, “Going forward, I will maintain my support for efforts that promote accessibility, competition, and innovation in the telecommunications industry.”

The Spokesman-Review also reached out to candidates for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat; Labrador is giving up the seat next year to run for governor. Among their responses:

State Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, said, “This is an important issue and one that Congress should deal with on a permanent basis, instead of relying on unelected appointees to decide. I have concerns that the consequence of such a broad change could lead to corporations picking winners and losers in terms of the content delivered through these networks. While corporations invested in building the network, taxpayers subsidized these activities, as well.”

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “Access to broadband and the content it delivers is a critical issue to Idaho job creators and families, and it highlights the need for true leadership in Congress. Content should not be screened or throttled. While I understand the frustration with the FCC, the reality is that Congress, not bureaucrats, must set policy that protects the free flow of information while fostering innovation and development of broadband, particularly in states like Idaho. I have worked hard as a legislator to build access to internet in schools, businesses and homes across the state, and I will work tirelessly to ensure we have the right rules when I am elected to Congress.”

GOP candidate David Leroy, a former Idaho lieutenant governor and attorney general, said, “In general, the less regulation from the federal government the better. Today’s decision regarding net neutrality is very complicated and does not give rise to a simple yes or no answer. I do like the fact that broadband providers will now have the ability to innovate and provide better service options to their customers. At the same time, I do have some concerns regarding the power that a very few providers will once again have over the marketplace. I don’t think a near monopoly of providers should have the exclusive ability to dictate access for net communications. Free market choices of that nature should be decided by the consumers. Finally, I think this vital and complicated policy issue should ultimately be debated and established by Congress, rather than by five unelected bureaucrats.”

Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, said, “With what I know at this point, I support the FCC repeal. The internet is a great example of the innovation that a free market can provide. Although net neutrality advocates sold the policy as a way to ensure the internet remained free and open, the ultimate result seems to have empowered government to have sweeping regulatory control over the internet.  Historically, heavy federal regulations have added cost and hindrances to industries they impact. Over the course of time, free market competition yields a better result for consumers.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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