Internet power struggle pits fed vs. fed

Rules passed this year over Internet regulation will come to a head Dec. 4, when a federal appeals court will hear oral arguments over a Federal Communications Commissions rule that critics say steals consumer protection authority from the Federal Trade Commission.

Critics say rules passed this year have muddled the law and done little good, and now a number of lawmakers are joining the chorus.

A group of 23 House members led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., filed an amicus brief supporting plaintiffs in the case on Nov. 4, arguing that regulations passed by the FCC this year exceed that body's authority. "Congress considered and rejected numerous bills that would have conferred power upon the FCC" to enact such rules, they write in their brief.

"That Congress spent nearly a decade struggling with whether and how to regulate the Internet does not provide a justification for the FCC to bypass that process," the lawmakers say, and add that regulatory policy has become muddled as a result of the commission's decision for a reason: It was never intended to have the authority to change industry regulations without authorization. "Congress certainly did not leave (and would never have left) this issue of great national importance to be decided by the FCC," they say.

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