Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler this week unveiled his plan to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act, a section of the law written in 1934 the FCC uses to regulate telephone service. Wheeler says the change is necessary for the government to enforce net neutrality regulations on broadband networks and prevent Internet service providers from favoring some types of data traffic over others.
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“Title II reclassification for the Internet and net neutrality are bad policy proposals that simply refuse to die. Title II regulations are a throwback to a system that no longer exists and is ill-suited to today’s dynamic Internet and broadband markets. The Internet has never really been neutral, and the best way to ensure fair service is to promote competition by reducing, not increasing, the amount of regulation.
“The consequences of implementing these policies are dire. Both could halt the rapid growth of e-commerce, which bolsters the U.S. economy as a whole. Net neutrality strongly suppresses broadband development, blocking Internet service providers from managing the networks they spent billions of dollars to develop. When the profit incentive to build new networks is blunted by burdensome regulations, regulators should not be surprised that providers are reluctant to expand and consumers lose out on new products and services.”
“Reclassifying the Internet as falling under Title II rather than as an information service is akin to square dancing to Jay-Z; that is, it can be done, but why do so when it doesn’t make sense? Yet, FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler insists on applying nineteenth century dance moves to the music of twenty-first century technology. What could conceivably go wrong? I joke, because the FCC’s past two attempts to impose net neutrality prompted terabytes of peer-reviewed research warning a heavier regulatory hand on the Internet would stifle technological growth and cause a significant loss of jobs in an industry that very well could represent one-sixth of the country’s economy.
“The 25 years of growth we’ve seen in the digital economy isn’t attributable to government regulation, but the lack thereof. Furthermore, the government’s first two efforts to impose net neutrality resulted in lengthy and expensive court cases, and the FCC lost both. This latest version of the old net neutrality gambit is even more ham-fisted and deserves worse than the fate of the FCC’s first two tries.”
“Let’s be frank: The Federal Communications Commission wants to strictly regulate the Internet so it can justify its very existence. The FCC of the twentieth century was a powerful agency that intimidated media and communications companies through its iron-fisted control over airwaves and telephone lines. The digital revolution of the twenty-first century has shrunk its mandate, so it is seeking to grab more power by seizing the Internet as part of its domain.
“Radio, over-the-air television, and cable TV are still regulated by the FCC. But the Millennial generation increasingly bypasses these options, listening to podcasts and streaming video on-demand. And just try finding a Millennial with a ‘land-line’ phone. You’re more likely to find one who collects stamps or listens to old Al Jolson records.
“Chairman Wheeler may have the votes to expand the FCC’s fiefdom, but it won’t last. Time- and money-burning lawsuits will put his plan on hold – time Congress should use to pass a new Communications Act for the twenty-first century that reins in an increasingly rogue agency that is sure to break an Internet that does not require a government fix.”
“Yet again, an Obama executive branch agency is going to pretend to be Congress and write laws for itself – rather than adhering to the Constitution by waiting for Congress to write and pass its laws, and then faithfully executing them.
“President Barack Obama fails utterly to recognize that the Constitution doesn’t say ‘Congress makes the laws – unless they won’t pass what Obama wants, in which case Obama can do whatever he wants.’ The United States was intended to be a republic, not an autocratic dictatorship. We’ve lost sight of that not-inconsequential difference.”
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