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FCC Chairman Invokes Nuclear Option, Bypasses Commissioners on Key Decisions

December 19, 2014

Berin Szoka and Geoffrey Manne

Tech Freedom

Yesterday, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a new Wireless Competition Reportand a Declaratory Ruling that effectively amends the FCC’s 2011 Data Roaming Order. Despite requests from two Commissioners, neither was put up for a full Commission vote.

“This is the FCC’s equivalent of Harry Reid’s ‘Nuclear Option’ combined with President Obama’s penchant for unilateral ‘Executive Action,’” said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. “At best, Wheeler has shattered the long-standing convention that any Commissioner can insist on a vote about a proposed Bureau action. When Harry Reid overrode centuries of Senate procedure in 2010 to end filibusters on everything but nominations, at least he could say that he was only forcing a vote on the issue. Tom Wheeler isn’t allowing any vote at all. This is hardly surprising from a Chairman who, in a fit of candid grandiosity,repeatedly told web companies in a recent meeting, ‘Iam an independent agency.’” Read More…

Opposition to net neutrality dominates latest FCC comments

December 17, 2014

Mario Trujillo

The Hill

Opposition to net neutrality dominated the second round of the Federal Communications Commission’s comment period, according to an analysis from the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency nonprofit.

Those comments — making up about 60 percent of submissions — came nearly exclusively from form letters originating from a group calling itself American Commitment.

That is a reversal from the first batch of comments, when the vast majority of comments were in support of net neutrality and only a sliver expressed opposition to regulations to ensure all Internet traffic is treated equally. Read More…

OVERNIGHT TECH: How many net neutrality comments were there?

December 17, 2014

By Mario Trujillo and Julian Hattem

The Hill

THE LEDE: The Federal Communications Commission is standing behind its count that 3.9 million public comments were submitted regarding proposed rules on net neutrality.

The Sunlight Foundation took issue with the number in a blog post Tuesday, in one of the first comprehensive analyses of the final round of comments, which ended in September.

“We spent enough time with these files that we’re reasonably sure that the FCC’s comment counts are incorrect and that our analysis is reasonably representative of what’s there,” the open government group wrote. Read More…

Net Neutrality Opponents Dominate Second Comment Round

December 17, 2014


National Journal

Sixty percent of the FCC’s second round of net neutrality comments voiced opposition to regulation, but the bulk of those appear to be linked to a Koch-backed organization. Sony hackers are now warning moviegoers who see “The Interview” that they could fall victim to a 9/11-sized terrorist attack. And the Senate has confirmed FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to a new term at the agency.

FCC FLOODED WITH ANTI-REGULATION COMMENTS: Net neutrality advocates dominated the FCC’s first comment period, but it appears that net neutrality opponents won the second round. According to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, 60 percent of the second round comments were made by critics of net neutrality.

But the transparency group pins this reversal primarily on a form letter from one organization, American Commitment. The conservative group with ties to the Koch Brothers was single-handedly responsible for 56.5 per Read More…

FCC Internet regulation would hit consumers with hidden fees

December 15, 2014

Seth L. Cooper

The Washington Examiner

The Internet is a continuing success story of high-tech innovation and economic vitality. Critical to that success is the largely hands-off approach that federal government has taken toward regulating and taxing the Internet.

But a federal agency, at the urging of President Obama, now aims to subject Internet services to new restrictions — and to stick Internet consumers with billions in costly new fees and taxes.

In a Nov. 10 public announcement, Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to stop regulating broadband Internet lightly as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act and reclassify it as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the act. Read More…

The FCC Is Unnecessarily Undermining its Legitimacy

December 19, 2014

Scott Cleland

Precursor Blog

In directing the Wireless bureau to make two substantial, Commission-level decisions today, without the full Commission vote that was requested by Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly, (concerning the release of the annual wireless competition report and regulating cellular data roaming rates), the FCC Chairman unnecessarily undermined the legitimacy of the FCC at a critical time the FCC needs all the actual and perceived legitimacy it can get.

The FCC’s legitimacy comes from the authority of law written by a duly-elected Congress under the U.S. Constitution, and from the official votes from duly-appointed FCC commissioners, who in turn abide by: the powers vested in the Commission by the Communications Act; due process; and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Process matters. Read More…

Why it doesn’t matter if net neutrality opponents “won” the FCC comment war

December 19, 2014

Timothy Lee


The big argument in the tech policy world right now is focused on comments submitted earlier this year to the Federal Communications Commission. As Nancy Scola notes, President Obama recently asked the FCC to “answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”

But it turns out that many of those comments — perhaps even a majority — were actually opposed to stronger network neutrality rules. A Sunlight Foundation analysis on the topic has generatedangry responses from left-leaning groups who say that their own submissions were under-counted. It looks like a big part of the problem is that the FCC’s system for submitting comments is so old and rickety that some submitted comments didn’t make it into the data set the agency released.


Conniving to Get “Real” Net Neutrality

December 17, 2014

Mike Wendy

Media Freedom

Transcription – Free Press’ Craig Aaron on bullhorn:We’ve brought in a giant magnifying glass. ‘Cuz we are going to symbolize how closely we’re going to be watching these rules and this decision. And how carefully we’re going to be scrutinizing if this is real Title II. Not fake Title II. No loopholes. No poison pills. We will only settle for real Net Neutrality.

Demonstrator in background holding sign: “Title II is common carrier classification?

Voice off-camera:You got it.”

Aaron:That is. That’s right. Com Read More…

Title II And Utility-Style Regulation Is Not How We Should Protect Open Internet

December 17, 2014

Jeff Pulver


For anyone born after 1985, the idea of connecting with a relative on FaceTime, Skyping a friend traveling abroad, or discussing a Halo mission with friends over a headset in real time is second nature.

But it’s equally true that these services might never have come to pass without significant efforts over a decade ago by many in the Internet community to keep government regulators at bay as they actively considered how to regulate these technologies.

Back then, we argued that the government could play a key role by exercising restraint and letting innovators innovate. In particular, a large chorus of innovators (as well as President Clinton and a bipartisan Congressional leadership) argued then that the government should not regulate the Internet as a public utility. But in a striking display of amnesia, this is exactly what President Obama is now calling for as the best way to preserve Internet openness. Read More…

The Underwhelming Economic Effects of Municipal Broadband

December 16, 2014

Brent Skorup

Technology Liberation Front

The FCC is currently considering ways to make municipal broadband projects easier to deploy, an exercise that has drawn substantial criticism from Republicans, who passed a bill to prevent FCC preemption of state laws. Today the Mercatus Center released a policy analysis of municipal broadband projects, titled Community Broadband, Community Benefits? An Economic Analysis of Local Government Broadband Initiatives. The researcher is Brian Deignan, an alumnus of the Mercatus Center MA Fellowship. Brian wrote an excellent, empirical paper about the economic effects of publicly-funded broadband.

It’s remarkable how little empirical research there is on municipal broadband investment, despite years of federal data and billions of dollars in federal investment (notably, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). This dearth of research is in part because muni broadband proponents, as Brian points out, expressly downplay the relevance of economic evidence and suggest that the pr 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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