As the FCC moves forward with a controversial decision to regulate internet providers in the name of fairness, commissioners must answer to a South Dakotan. In fact all three people who represent the state in Washington D-C say they stand against the agency’s move to expand its power. Yet that doesn’t mean they have the same reason for resistance.
Three members of Congress advocate for the interests of South Dakotans in the nation’s capital, and all three condemn the Federal Communication Commission’s vote to expand its regulatory power to internet service.
US Senator John Thune chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. He says he’s calling an oversight hearing with all five FCC Commissioners, including the chairman. It’s scheduled for March 18th.
Thune says he wants Congress to preserve net neutrality – fair access to content and internet speeds without interruption.
"There're going to be a lot of lawsuits filed. It’s going to be tied up in the courts for years. It does give the FCC unbridled authority to regulate rates, taxes and fees, other things associated with the regulation of telecommunications services, which this would now bring the internet under, and it could be reversed by a future FCC," Thune says.
Thune says he has a six-page bill that accounts for people’s concerns that internet companies could speed up, slow down or block content from certain providers.
Earlier this month, US Congresswoman Kristi Noem said she supports net neutrality because the internet is an equal opportunity for all people, regardless of income, location, or other distinctions. She says she doesn’t support the FCC’s decision because it adds a layer of bureaucracy.
United States Senator Mike Rounds says he, too, opposes the federal agency’s move to increase its own power, but he also questions leveling internet services.
"I think if a business in South Dakota wants to buy more bandwidth and wants to buy the availability or needs it in their business, they ought to be able to make a deal and do so, so I’m not sure that and the agenda that they’ve laid out right now the at the FCC, I’m not sure that necessarily works in our favor," Rounds says.
Rounds says he supports a Congressional answer to questions surrounding internet regulation and accessibility.