Based on the latest best arguments this week from both the FCC and broadband petitioners, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is very likely to partially stay the FCC Open Internet Order’s reclassification of broadband as a Title II service and imposition of a new Internet conduct standard — in the coming weeks.
With this track record of uber-failure – which has put us on the fast track to oblivion – why would we want even more government? When everything Big Government advocates say they need – results in less of what they say they want?
In the coming weeks, expect the D.C. Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court to grant a partialstay, of only the FCC’s Title II reclassification of broadband and its new “Internet conduct standard” (not the FCC’s net neutrality prohibitions of blocking, throttling or paid prioritization), even though stay requests normally have a low probability of success, because petitioners must convince the court that they are likely to win on the merits and that the opposed action will cause irreparable harm.
Likely the least regulated private economic sector going into the Age of the Barack Obama Administration – at least at the federal level – was the Internet. Which is largely why the Web has become an ever-evolving, free speech-free market Xanadu.
Once again the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives, this time because the last temporary extension, passed in December, will expire on October 1. The bipartisan legislation bans taxes on Internet access permanently and disallows multiple or discriminatory taxes on Internet activities. If allowed to expire, states would begin to collect taxes on Internet access, or apply other discriminatory taxes that may already be in place in the state but which have been held at bay during the moratorium.
Jim Lakely, communications director at The Heartland Institute and co-director of Heartland’s Center on the Digital Economy, talked with one of the best free-market tech experts in Washington: Less Government President Seton Motley, who also happens to be a policy advisor to Heartland.
It is human nature to take for granted the status quo. It is dangerous to think government attempts to “improve” the status quo will do anything of the sort. The Internet is not broken. There is no problem for the FCC to fix.
The Internet ecosystem just added a new tool to preserve the property of rights holders even while encouraging greater use of broadband. The Motion Picture Association has announced the launch of a new search engine called WheretoWatch.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Is the Internet consumer in charge or the product sold to others? Is net neutrality about protecting consumers or Silicon Valley?
We’ll learn the answers to these critical questions in the coming months when the FCC votes on a redo of its “Open Internet” order implementing net neutrality.