As we’ve mentioned before, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun an unprecedented foray into a hitherto untouched area: Internet regulation. The socialist organizations Free Press and Public Knowledge, along with new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, have long waged a campaign for “Net Neutrality,” which would lay the foundations for government regulation of the Net and how information travels through the lines to your home. Now realizing the FCC might not have the legal authority to do so, these groups have proposed completely redefining how the FCC treats the Internet to pursue this ambitious power grab.
For years, the FCC has determined that the Internet be regulated as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act (see here, here, here, and here). But since this classification only gives the FCC ancillary and tenuous jurisdiction to regulate the Net, there is now talk of simply reclassifying it as a Title II service – placing it under the same regulatory structure as traditional phone lines that dates back one hundred years.
So, what would this mean? Say goodbye to free markets and competition that has brought Internet to over 95% of Americans and developed at least six current choices of Internet service (from cable to wireless broadband). Say hello to vague and unprecedented legal authority that would turn the Net into a series of dumb, government controlled pipes and permit the FCC to virtually regulate how fast your Internet is, how your Internet is priced, and even whether you would have to pay the same ridiculous taxes and universal service fund charges currently levied on your landline phone bill. The justification for the change? An “open” Internet. Yes, that same terrific and open Internet you already enjoy.
As FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell stated so eloquently, “innovation and investment in broadband did not come about due to a government mandate.” We couldn’t agree more. The Internet has become the marvel it is today by keeping the FCC’s hands off it entirely.