FCC Chairman Backs Off Net Neutrallity Push
The usual suspects on the left — notably Free Press — is going nuts over reports that Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski appears to be backing off his plans to impose strict net neutrality rules via a simple majority vote of his agency. Via The Washington Post:
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has indicated he wants to keep broadband services deregulated, according to sources, even as a federal court decision has exposed weaknesses in the agency's ability to be a strong watchdog over the companies that provide access to the Web.
The FCC currently has "ancillary" authority over broadband providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon and must adequately justify actions over those providers. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the agency had exceeded its authority in 2008 when it applied sanctions against Comcast.
The ruling cast doubt over the FCC's ability to create a "net neutrality" rule that would force Internet service providers to treat all services and applications on the Web equally.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to respond soon to the court ruling. Three sources at the agency said Genachowski has not made a final decision but has indicated in recent discussions that he is leaning toward keeping in place the current regulatory framework for broadband services but making some changes that would still bolster the FCC's chances of overseeing some broadband policies.
This is great news for those who have been battling to keep the government hands off the Internet. As is news that a powerful staffer at the FCC who has been pushing for net neutrality, Colin Crowell, has resigned his post. It's hard to believe Crowell would leave the commission if net neutrality — and greater regulation of the Internet in general — was still on the table.
Jim Lakely (firstname.lastname@example.org) is co-director of the Center on the Digital Economy and managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News.