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When community activists rule the web

March 26, 2015

Jeffrey Eisenach

Tech Policy Daily

The notion that the Federal Communications Commission would designate Internet access to be a Title II service – a “public utility” as Susan Crawford and other net neutrality advocates put it – was inconceivable as recently as a few months ago. Then, just after the election, something happened: Demonstrators appeared outside the home of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and, on the same day, President Obama posted a YouTube video calling on the commission to impose Title II regulation.

Those events didn’t happen by accident. Rather, they were – according to one sympathetic account – the result of “one of the most sustained and strategic activist campaigns in recent memory,” which successfully “framed net neutrality as a social justice issue, warning about how an Internet with fast lanes would harm the ability of activists to spread their message.” Read More…

Tom Wheeler’s Apology Tour

March 11, 2015

Holman Jenkins

The Wall Street Journal

Europe may be a synonym for stagnation, but Barcelona still hosts the world’s premier mobile telecom conference, and this year the theme was “woe are the carriers.” Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal produced front-page stories last week dwelling on the Facebook menace to the industry’s traditional voice and messaging revenues. Google used the Barcelona venue to roll out a new free Wi-Fi threat to mobile operators’ paying broadband traffic.

So the Barcelonans must have been surprised when the Tom Wheeler reputation salvation tour arrived, pronouncing that black was white, up was down.

Mr. Wheeler is the U.S. Federal Communications Commission chief who just found that telecom operators are actually dangerous monopolists in need of old-style utility regulation. Well, he actually said no such thing. H Read More…

Why Net Neutrality May Bring A Lousier Netflix Connection

March 11, 2015

George Anders


Internet enthusiasts have been swapping gleeful fist bumps, now that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to regulate online connectivity more aggressively, in the name of “net neutrality.” But if you or your loved ones like watching Netflix’s streaming movies via a campus Internet connection, you may be cursing the FCC before long.

Consider the way Internet resources are allocated right now at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Currently, campus network administrators enjoy wide freedom to adjust priorities that match students’ needs in different locations or at different times of day. Here’s how Greta Pangborn, St. Michaels’ chair of the computer science department,explained the situation to the campus newspaper, The Defender. Read More…

Be skeptical of ‘net neutrality’

March 11, 2015

Robert Samuelson

The Washington Post

As a young reporter in the 1970s, I covered the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Created in 1887, the ICC regulated the nation’s railroads and sought to protect the public against abusive freight rates. Congress deregulated the railroads in 1980 and ultimately abolished the ICC. The verdict was that the agency had so weakened the industry that a government takeover might be necessary. Deregulation was a desperate alternative to nationalization.

I mention all this because there are obvious parallels between the Internet today and the railroads in the late 19th century. Like the railroads then, the Internet today is the great enabling technology of the age. Like the railroads then, Internet companies inspire awe and dread. And now there’s another parallel: the resort to regulation. Read More…

Failure to launch: Two frustrated arguments from the Title II debate

March 6, 2015

Link Hoewing

Tech Policy Daily

Last week, the FCC voted to reclassify US broadband under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. The vote followed a long period of impassioned rhetoric from both sides of the debate, with Title II advocates ultimately winning this round of the argument. There are two points from the other side of this debate, however, that had far less impact than they should have: First, that reclassification will have negative effects on free speech, and second, that the Internet’s innovative potential is only just begun to have an impact.  To impose regulations designed in the era of the telephone after the progress we have seen in the growth of the Internet as a global medium of speech and an economic and innovation engine seems especially foolhardy.

First, free speech. Title II advocates treat this argument dismissively by saying that the US is not China or Russia. We have a habit of protecting speech after all they point out. As a result, there is no danger that the FCC would regulate what people say on the Internet. Indeed, Chairman Wheeler himself likene Read More…

Limitless innovation? Only if the FCC gives permission

March 18, 2015

Mark Jamison

Tech Policy Daily

Innovation always surprises. It catches us off guard and does things we do not expect. The best innovations happen when entrepreneurial companies step outside their comfort zones, explore unchartered territories, or take a great leap forward in ways no one had anticipated. Apple did this. So did Google, Facebook, and YouTube, all in their own, unique way. So what happens when innovators are forced to think inside the box? Well, we’re about to find out.

Let’s take a step back and look at some of the most valuable innovators in modern times. Why was Apple such a successful innovator under Steve Jobs? Part of the reason was his unique ability to conceptualize and sell technologies that others hadn’t imagined. But he also broke the rules. When the PC world was moving to an open architecture, he kept the Mac closed. This was important because the open system largely limited innovation to component improvements. While oth Read More…

Broadband rate regulation is inevitable under Title II

March 10, 2015

Daniel Lyons

Tech Policy Daily

Throughout its net neutrality proceeding, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been deliberately vague about the contours of its proposal to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service. Will sponsored data or T-Mobile’s Music Choice service survive the new rules? To what degree will the FCC regulate interconnection, after insisting in its initial notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that it would not? What impact will the reclassification decision have on federal USF funding? On state regulatory power? The commission has consistently deferred answering these inquiries until after the release of the order, which remains classified nearly two weeks after its passage.

But there is one issue about which Chairman Tom Wheeler has been crystal-clear since announcing his support for reclassification: the commission will not engage in broadband rate regulation. In his landmark Wired op-ed announcing his plan to put reclassification to a vote, he insisted that Read More…

FCC imposes net neutrality, again

March 10, 2015

James Gattuso

The Heritage Foundation

It was Throwback Thursday at the FCC on Feb. 26, as the Federal Communications Commission voted to impose 1930s-era regulations on Internet providers.

Under the agency’s new rules, Internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast are to be treated as “common carriers” under the 1934 Communications Act, subjecting them to detailed oversight of what they offer to consumers – and how they offer it.

The decision was a bit of a trip down regulatory memory lane for the FCC, harking back to the days when telephones looked like black candlesticks and all important decisions were made by regulators. Emphasizing the “retro” nature of the day, Verizon’s official response to the decision was issued entirely in Morse code, the language of the telegraph. Read More…

Content Control Is the Very Essence of the President’s New Net Neutrality Laws

March 4, 2015

Mike Wendy

Media Freedom

The FCC says the President’s new Title II rules are not about controlling speech. I guess that memo never made it to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who seems to believe that controlling free speech is the very heart of the new Internet takeover.

In her statement at the FCC’s open meeting last week, when she voted for the President’s new plan, she said:

“So here we are, 224 years [after the Bill of Rights and it First Amendment became law], at a pivotal fork in the road, poised to preserve those very same virtues of a democratic society – free speech, freedom of religion, a free press, freedom of assembly and a functioning free market.

“As we look around the world we see foreign governments blocking access to websites including social media — in sum, curtailing free speech. There are countries where it is routine for governments, not the consumer, to determine the type of websites and content that can be accessed by its citizens. I am proud to be able to say that we are not among them.”

Really, Commissioner Clyburn?  So, the FCC isn’t regulating Internet content?

Hardly. Read More…

Why the FCC’s Vote to Regulate the Internet is a Mistake

March 4, 2015

Ryan Radia

Competitive Enterprise Institute

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to regulate Internet providers as public utilities under a 1934 law. President Obama celebrated this ruling, which the FCC based on his plan to enforce net neutrality – the idea that Internet providers shouldn’t be allowed to prioritize, throttle, degrade, or block lawful content. But the FCC’s sweeping rules will have unintended consequences for the Internet’s future, potentially hurting the very users net neutrality is supposed to protect.

To understand why regulating Internet providers as public utilities is unwise, consider other markets where bureaucrats have the final say over prices and services. Taxicabs, for instance, are strictly governed by local boards or commissions that dictate rates and policies. Read More…

Utility Regulation Will Make the Internet Rusty

October 10, 2014

Mike Wendy
Media Freedom

No one loves their public utilities. They’re slow, unresponsive to change, and only just good enough for government work, which isn’t saying much.

If you’d talk to progressives working in the Internet space, though, you’d hear a different story. They think that utilities, and the 19th Century regulation used to control them, are the greatest things since sliced bread.  You see, they want to make private U.S. broadband providers public utilities, and radical groups like Free Press, Public Knowledge and have pulled out all of the stops to get the Federal Communications Commission to do so.

Why? Read More…

Free State Foundation Comments

September 17, 2014

by Free State Foundation

On the issue of            )           AT&T and Direct TV merger

I. Introduction and Summary
These comments are filed in response to the Commission’s request for comments
concerning the agency’s review of the transfer of control of licenses in connection with the
proposed acquisition of DIRECTV by AT&T Inc. These comments do not endorse or oppose the
proposed merger. Rather, their purpose is to set out baseline principles by which the Commission
should evaluate this as well as other mergers and to provide a summary analysis of
AT&T/DIRECTV in light of those principles.
Mergers and acquisitions are competitive entrepreneurial activities Read More…

Free-Market Advocates’ Comments to FCC, Opposing Internet Regulation

July 15, 2014

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of  Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

GN Docket No. 14-28

Comments of

Free-Market Advocates Opposed to Internet Regulation

For 10 years officials at the Federal Communications Commission have told Americans that the Internet will “break” unless the agency steps in to keep it “free and open.”  All the while, the Internet’s privately driven development has been vibrant, relentless and universal.  Nevertheless, at points during this same period the Commission twice sought to encumber the Internet with restrictive common carrier-like, Net Neutrality regulations.  In response to each of these actions, the DC Circuit twice struck down the agency’s overreach.  In the latest DC Circuit ruling – Verizon v. FCC[1] – the Court struck down the main thrust of the Commission’s arguments, but found that the Commission had some authority under Section 706 of the Communications Act.   The Commission has apparently undertaken the present Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to once again establish a regulatory regime in the absence of a market failure or a clear Congressional grant of authority.

The Internet is “free and open,” making the vast “network of networks” an integral engine for societal growth, participatory democracy and global commerce.  Its healthy development came primarily through the lack of government regulation, not because of it.  Although the Court seems to have offered the FCC a very narrow pathway to impose some form of Net Neutrality regulation on the Internet, nothing demands that the FCC go forward with its present plans.

Read More…

IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Title II Reclassification Unjustified, Unnecessary

August 12, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service                    

GN Docket No. 10-127

FCC Docket No. 10-114

 Reply Comments

of the Undersigned Members of the



The Commission is being asked by Free Press and other organizations to pursue a radical course of action – reclassifying information services as telecommunications services in order to regulate the Internet for the first time.  We write to urge the Commission to keep the Internet free of new government regulation and taxation and to refrain from rushing into such a potentially disastrous course of action.

Analysts are only beginning to grasp the extent of the disruptive and destructive consequences of regulating the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and the Commission is in no position to predict the outcome, much less assure Americans it will be positive.  Americans have heard political leaders admit that we will not know the full extent or nature of massive health care and financial services regulations until after the underlying legislation has been passed.  Now, Americans are facing the imposition of an even lesser-understood regulatory regime over the Internet without the benefit of any legislative process whatsoever.


IFC Supplemental Reply Comments: FCC Lacks Authority, Justification for Reclassifying Internet as Title II Service

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet              GN Docket No. 09-191                                  
Broadband Industry Practices            WC Docket No. 07-52

Supplemental Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

Just two days prior to the Commission’s deadline for reply comments regarding the above Notice of Proposed Rulemakings, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Comcast v. FCC that the Commission has no authority to enact Net Neutrality rules.  The deadline for comments was extended, particularly to facilitate discussion of other methods of promulgating Net Neutrality regulations.

 Beginning with comments on the National Broadband Plan filed by Public Knowledge in January, a small number of organizations have since proposed classifying the Internet as a Title II common carrier service as a way of asserting the Commission’s authority to enact Net Neutrality regulations.  The Internet Freedom Coalition respectfully submits these reply comments in strong opposition to any effort to reclassify the Internet as a Title II service.

Read More…

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