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Millennials to the FCC: ‘Don’t Break the Internet’ | Commentary

Bureaucrats in Washington are trying to use a law passed in 1934 to take over the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission wants to unlawfully use a provision known as “Title II” to regulate the Internet as a public utility.

What a disaster. And young people are pissed off.

Millions of us have commented through the FCC’s official bureaucratic channels. In addition to encouraging our activists to be part of the official process, we at Generation Opportunity took the fight to the FCC’s Facebook page in what we call a “Facebook bomb.” Thousands of young Americans posted, completely taking over the page.

Millennials who have witnessed the transformative power of a free Internet find it unfathomable that bureaucrats would consider breaking it. Internet freedom has driven progress in nearly every sector of our economy, immeasurably improving the lives of every American citizen.

Nevertheless, out-of-touch regulators are trying to use New Deal-era legislation to control the most innovative, exciting and ever-changing technology imaginable. We aren’t talking about water or power companies, which are notorious for their subpar customer service; there’s a pretty big difference between managing the water supply and the endless possibilities of the Internet.

The FCC’s proposed regulations show just how much power they want to exert:

“Whenever … the Commission shall be of opinion that any charge, classification, regulation, or practice of any carrier or carriers is or will be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the Commission is authorized and empowered to determine and prescribe what will be the just and reasonable charge  . . .  what classification, regulation, or practice is or will be just, fair, and reasonable . . .  .”

Translation: Unelected pencil pushers get to decide how much you’ll pay to use the Internet and whether or not they approve of how your Internet provider is doing business.

Enjoy streaming video content from websites like Netflix? Title II jeopardizes the cheap and reliable access you get. Pleased with the affordability of your iPhone’s data plan? Prepare to pay a lot more. For millennials, the magnitude of Title II is huge. We use the Internet more than any other generation and there are broader economic consequences as well. Investment in broadband and the Internet leads to billions of dollars in economic output and approximately 2.5 million jobs nationwide. Fifteen percent of young people are out of work, and the Internet remains one of the most exciting ways of overcoming this difficult economy.

The FCC seems hell-bent on regulating us back to the Stone Age. Computer manufacturers, software publishers, data processing and hosting services, broadcasting and telecommunications services, Internet publishing services, and search engine services will all be forced to comply with “new” regulations based on an 80-year-old law.

And with these regulations will come fewer choices. Public utilities inevitably lead to monopolies by discouraging newcomers from entering the marketplace. That’s bad for the economy, bad for poor communities who already struggle to afford broadband access, and bad for young entrepreneurs who could come up with better ways to bring the Internet to the average citizen.

Millennials have made our voices heard. Let’s hope the FCC will heed our calls and refrain from breaking the Internet.

Evan Feinberg is president of Generation Opportunity, a youth advocacy organization.

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