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Julius Caesar of the Internet

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Wall St Journal
May 8, 2010

A federal appeals court ruled last month that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to regulate the Internet. No worries, mate. This week the Obama Administration chose to “reclassify” the Internet so it can regulate the Web anyway. This crowd is nothing if not legally creative.

For the past decade, broadband has been classified as an “information service” and thus more lightly regulated than traditional telephone services. This has led to an explosion of new investment and Web innovation, but it hasn’t sat well with Democrats who want more control over the telecom business, as well as with some Web companies (Google) that want more leverage over Internet service providers like Time Warner or Verizon.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski did their dirty work this week by announcing that he plans to reclassify broadband lines so his agency can regulate them under rules that were written for Ma Bell in the 1930s. This means subjecting the Internet to new political supervision—from the federal government and 50 state public utility commissions. The goal is to put one more industry under Washington’s political thumb.

Even Bill Clinton’s FCC, under Chairman Bill Kennard, had refused to go this far. “Classifying Internet access as telecommunication services could have significant consequences for the global development of the Internet,” said Mr. Kennard in a 1998 speech. “We recognized the unique qualities of the Internet, and do not presume that legacy regulatory frameworks are appropriately applied to it.”

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This article was posted: Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 4:38 am





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