-By Warner Todd Huston
While attending RightOnLine in Las Vegas last week we had the opportunity to attend several discussions of the ill advised plans that the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has for regulating and controlling the Internet.
I listened to a panel discussion and a stand alone speech on Net Neutrality and the plans the Obama administration has for the Internet will surely stifle the creativity and new business opportunities that are opening up all in the overused name of “fairness.”
Worse, these regulations are all being pushed through without act of Congress and under the guise of the FCC’s assumed powers to affect the Internet. These powers that the FCC imagines itself to have are not codified anywhere in law, but the FCC is moving ahead despite the gray areas. Like most of what Obama does, nothing as silly as “the law” will stop them from surging forward with yet another power grab. In fact, the FCC is shoehorning onto the Internet laws that were written in the 1930s, laws meant to affect the monopoly businesses known as Ma Bell and its subsidiaries in the telephone business. And that fact right there is enough to warn us all that the FCCs plans are a disaster waiting to happen. If you think regulations meant to affect 1930s technology are suitable to today’s Internet technology, you have another think coming.
In any case, conservative and free-market groups are marshalling their forces to oppose the FCCs massive power grab. Americans for Tax Reform is one of them. Here is ATRs open letter explaining their effort…
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT, U.S. CONGRESS, AND FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION URGING OPPOSITION TO INTERNET REGULATION
We the undersigned, representing millions of American citizens, write in strong opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) effort to regulate the Internet.
Over the past 25 years, the Internet has flourished in large part due to the extremely limited role that government has played. In less than a decade, the private sector has expanded broadband Internet access to over 95 percent of American households. Since 2004, the price to access the Internet has dropped by 23 percent, while during the same period overall consumer prices have trended upward.
Despite universal acknowledgement that Americans enjoy a free, open, and vibrant Internet, the FCC is relentlessly pursuing a massive regulatory regime that would stifle broadband expansion, create congestion, slow Internet speeds, jeopardize job retention and growth, and lead to higher prices for consumers.
We oppose the FCC’s effort to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which was written during the depression era to regulate telephone monopolies – 60 years before the Internet was ever conceived. These proposed regulations would permit the FCC to dictate how the networks that serve as the backbone of the Internet are managed, thereby removing incentives for further investment and opening the door for price setting or future regulatory action. It could also remove the ability for parents to prevent inappropriate material from entering the home. This regulatory “reclassification” would effectively turn innovative private Internet services into a public utility.
Earlier this year, a U.S. Court of Appeals found that the Commission was attempting to “shatter” the bounds of its legal authority by trying to enact Net Neutrality regulations without Congressional authority. We view this renewed effort by the FCC to reclassify the Internet under Title II as even more unfounded and onerous.
By pursuing Title II reclassification, the Commission is turning its back on years of precedent set by multiple U.S. Congresses, presidential administrations, the FCC’s own rulings, and the U.S. Supreme Court, which all found that the Internet should remain unregulated. Even more disconcerting, the Commission’s actions show complete disdain for strong bipartisan opposition voiced by a vast majority in Congress and the American people.
Placing the nation’s 21st century communications system under a pre-World War II law is the wrong approach to continuing broadband Internet expansion and adoption. The Internet has never been a regulated utility and we urge you to keep it that way by rejecting so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations on the Internet and the proposed Title II reclassification.
Finally, here is ATR’s page on its efforts where you can download the Net Neutrality Policy Brief: http://www.atr.org/atrs-net-neutrality-policy-brief-a5139