If Congress or the media seek incisive oversight/accountability questions to ask the FCC about the real world implications and unintended consequences of its Title II net neutrality plans, here are ten that fit the bill.
The Internet isn’t broken, and doesn’t need the government to fix it. That was my overriding message in a debate on Chicago’s PBS station WTTW Tuesday night with Illinois ACLU Executive Director Colleen K. Connell.
I was gratified by the excellent attendance at the Free State Foundation’s program last Friday titled, “Thinking the Unthinkable: Imposing the ‘Utility Model’ on Internet Providers.” If you weren’t there, you missed what was a very important event – one that, in light of the substantive discussions that occurred, likely will play an important role going forward in the debate over the Federal Communications Commission’s consideration of the imposition of new net neutrality mandates.
Unless you only get your news via the Jurassic Press – or you are a government school victim who as a result doesn’t pay attention to anything at all – you are now intimately familiar with the on-camera stylings of Jonathan Gruber.
On September 25, the Mercatus Center, a research and outreach organization that promotes market-oriented solutions from George Mason University, did a presentation on net neutrality. The speaker, research fellow in the technology policy program Brent Skorup, gave a wide overview of the net neutrality subject. Skorup discussed, among other things, how the Internet works, the working definition of net neutrality, exceptions to the rule, and the options the FCC is exploring.
Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. Over the last decade, the FCC has alleged only a few potential net neutrality problems, and in each of these few cases, the FCC was able to satisfactorily resolve them without Title II authority.
The FCC is considering administratively bypassing Congress and unilaterally reversing longstanding U.S. Internet policy in law with an administrative maneuver that could have sweeping and unintended negative consequences for U.S. trade and foreign policy.
Nothing has changed my mind that it would be “unthinkable” for the FCC to classify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, the part of the 1934 communications law derived directly from the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The purpose of the Interstate Commerce Act was to constrain what was then seen as the monopolistic power of the railroads. The railroads were deregulated in the 1980s – long before the emergence today’s broadband Internet providers.
Currently the FCC is considering reversing the legal status of American Internet services from lightly-regulated information services to utility-regulated “telecommunications” services in response to a 2014 appeals court decision that limited a portion of the FCC’s net neutrality regulatory authority.
A little-noticed article in the Wall Street Journal over Labor Day Weekend concerning the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger caught my eye, not only because the article obviously concerns an important matter of communications policy, but also because it raises questions regarding a matter of proper administrative agency process.
In Scott Cleland’s recent piece titled, “Silicon Valley’s Biggest Internet Mistake,” he makes an important, too little addressed point: Were the FCC to classify Internet service as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act, this drastic step likely would have significant adverse international ramifications.
Silicon Valley’s net neutrality tunnel vision in America blinds it to the disastrous international policy repercussions of promoting a protectionist industrial policy for Silicon Valley at the FCC, exactly when most other nations are looking for any pretext to justify imposing their own protectionist policies in response to Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA spying.
Rep. Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,wrote the FCC to propose that the FCC, in its pending Open Internet order remand, “reclassif[y] broadband providers as telecommunications services and then using the modern [Title I] authority of section 706 to set bright-line rules to prevent blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.”
Conservatives and Libertarians inherently have little faith or trust in government. We know the institution is inherently flawed – and self-serving. Government violates the Wallet Rule. Which is: You go out on a Friday night with your wallet. You go out the following Friday night with my wallet. On which night are you going to have more fun?
Recently two towns, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, have petitioned the federal government, via the FCC, complaining that state laws are constraining them from the municipal provision of broadband services, that is, from building a government owned network (GON). That is, these municipalities want to expend resources to build and operate broadband systems, without following any of regulations that govern private sector providers. To overcome the state’s rightful authority the city governments have proposed that the FCC preempt state law and empower municipalities in ways that upset the political structure of the U.S.
Back in 1997, then-FCC Chairman Reed Hundt titled a speech, “Thinking About Why Some Communications Mergers Are Unthinkable.” In his address, Mr. Hundt explained why, in his view, it was “unthinkable” to contemplate a merger between AT&T and one of the Bell Operating Companies. A principal reason had to do with what Mr. Hundt claimed would be the “resulting concentration” of “the long distance market.”
The FCC’s invitation has prompted a “rainbow of policy and legal proposals” that would explore “new ideas for protecting and promoting the open Internet” by imposing Title II telecommunications regulation on America’s Internet infrastructure.
The FTC implicitly laid down an important jurisdictional, political, and public marker against FCC reclassification of broadband as a utility, in its recent FCC filing in the FCC’s Section 706 inquiry proceeding.