The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to adopt a Notice of Inquiry to allow the agency to more strictly regulate the Internet. The proposed rule would reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service” under stricter Title II regulations, rather than the current looser regime of Title I, in which broadband is considered an “information service.” The vote fell along partisan lines, with the three Democrats on the FCC voting yes and the two Republicans voting no.
Jim Lakely, co-director of the Center on the Digital Economy at The Heartland Institute in Chicago, offers the following comments. You may quote from his statement below or contact him directly at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.
“It seems nothing will stop FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s wrong-headed effort to seize control over the Internet – not the federal courts, not a bipartisan desist letter from dozens of members of Congress, and not public opinions polls showing the public wants the commission to keep its hands off the Web.
“Genachowski’s justification for this power grab – that he wants to ensure the Internet continues to run as it does today – only proves that strict regulation of broadband is not necessary. The fact is that neither the FCC, nor ‘public interest’ groups who want to unleash the agency on the Internet, can offer compelling proof that the digital economy is not a ‘broken market’ in need of a fix at the hands of bureaucrats.
“If the FCC adopts this rule and crams broadband into an ill-fitting Title II regime, it will spark a flood of lawsuits – which are likely to succeed, considering April’s Comcast v. FCC decision by the DC Circuit explicitly stated the commission does not enjoy arbitrary regulatory power over the Internet. Consumers will then be made to suffer, as firms will waste energy and capital beating back the FCC, instead of investing in innovations that bring the world ever-better and faster products and services.
“Now it appears only Congress can put a stop to this by reflecting the will of the people and reining in an arrogant FCC that can’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
For more information, contact Jim Lakely, [email protected], or Tammy Nash, [email protected], or call 312/377-4000. The Heartland Institute is a 26-year-old, free-market, non-profit think tank based in Chicago.