Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, spoke about Net Neutrality at the “Protecting the Internet and Consumers Through Legislative Action” hearing on Jan. 21, 2015.

Sen. Schatz said there are four key elements necessary for the FCC to protect an open Internet and Net Neutrality: 1) prohibit fast lanes, 2) do not block lawful content, 3) prohibit throttling, and 4) increase transparency.

The FCC will meet on Feb. 26 to decide how it will rule on Net Neutrality.

Read Sen. Schatz’s full remarks below:

Mr. Chairman. I am looking forward to working with you, Ranking Member Nelson, and my Subcommittee Chair, Senator Wicker. We all agree that an open Internet has become crucial for everyone to function in today’s society. That is why it is important for us to work together to consider the best path forward to protect Net Neutrality.

As we consider our options, we must aim to accomplish and balance three objectives:

–   provide maximum protection to consumers,
–   provide maximum flexibility to promote innovation and the Internet economy while also
–   enabling continued investment in a state of the art broadband infrastructure.

Most importantly, Net Neutrality protections must ensure that the FCC has the ongoing authority to protect consumers. To be effective, these rules must contain at least four essential elements:

–   they must prohibit fast lanes,
–   they must not block lawful content,
–   they must prohibit throttling while allowing for reasonable network management,
–   they must increase transparency.

So, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on the Chairman’s draft legislation and on the FCC’s ongoing rulemaking and the best way to achieve each of these objectives.

Congress always has the prerogative to legislate, but we also must recognize the advantages of an empowered expert agency. Particularly in an area as dynamic as the Internet, the FCC should have flexible, forward-looking authority. I fear that the draft legislative proposal would make it nearly impossible for the FCC to deal with future problems or opportunities as they come up.

The point here is that when it comes to telecommunications and the Internet, Congress is best suited to establish broad policies but the particulars ought to be left to the expert agency.

So, while I intend to keep an open mind on possible legislation, I have deep reservations about intervening in the FCC’s ongoing rulemaking.

I look forward to working with Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Subcommittee Chairman Wicker to ensure that Net Neutrality protections first and foremost protect consumers while enabling our companies to continue to invest, innovate and succeed.

Click here to sign PCCC’s petition demanding Net Neutrality.