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Bill Nelson, Help Us Keep Government's Hands Off of the Internet

May 22, 2014 - 6:00pm

My college-age children often ask me, How did you make it through school without the Internet?

Reflecting back to simpler times before laptops, smartphones and the cloud remind me just how integral these technologies are to modern society. None of these technologies could operate without a key service we all rely on from students in a public-school classroom to the largest logistics companies in the world the Internet.

Unfortunately, our continued reliance on this precious resource could soon be jeopardized in what would amount to a government takeover of the Internet.

Floridas own Sen. Bill Nelson, other Washington lawmakers, and special interest groups recently recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulate the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

This public utility model is highly regulatory and discourages private company investment and slows innovation, which would have drastic economic repercussions in Florida and result in consumers experiencing slower speeds and missing out on new technologies.

Just last week, the FCC left the door open for such regulation of the Internet in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and will be taking comments on that matter until Sept. 10, 2014.

Instead of celebrating everything that the Internet has done to move both Floridas economy, and the U.S. economy forward, however, some in Washington are seeking to drag it backward by subjecting it to monopoly-era telephone regulations wholly unsuited for the modern economy.

This debate over regulating the Internet has been waging in Washington for almost 10 years. Year after year, the same special interest groups warn of the death of the Internet as we know it if the government does not impose onerous new regulations. Yet, lo and behold, the Internet never ends; rather, innovation and investment are flourishing in Florida and throughout the nation.

Regulating the Internet has become a serious distraction from more pertinent issues facing our country and our state.

Sen. Nelson should take the lead in putting this issue to rest and elevate real priorities that affect businesses and communities across the country. By focusing on real priorities, we can build a better, smarter Florida for all its taxpayers and citizens, rather than a more regulated and restricted one that prevents capital formation and job creation.

Dominic Calabro is president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch,an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofittaxpayer research institute and government watchdog. Tallahassee-based Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible memberships and private grants, and does not accept government funding.

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