JIM LAKELY AND MATTHEW GLANS
November 24, 2014
President Obama’s recent call to the Federal Communications Commission to strictly regulate broadband networks could be the death knell for the open, free, and prosperous Internet that has become one of the key engines of the American economy. That engine is not broken now, but bureaucratic meddling will surely do the trick.
In 1996, Congress classified broadband as an “information service” under Title I of the Telecommunications Act, a light regulatory touch that allowed the digital economy to bring us the marvels of the modern age. Unburdened by onerous regulation, telecommunications companies motivated by potential profits took risks and invested heavily in new technology. This is why in 2014, even America’s poor have the world in the palms of their hands and fast access to just about any form of media and information on-demand.
But if Obama gets his way, the Internet will instead by regulated much more tightly under Title II — an anachronistic, strict and controlling category of regulations for “common carriers,” which was designed for the old-style copper-wire telephone networks developed during the Great Depression. Title II has as much place in today’s vibrant, high-speed broadband world as an old hand-crank telephone has in a modern office.
Title II classification would give a small, unelected bureaucratic body widespread power and control over the Internet economy, allowing the FCC to play traffic cop and paymaster by controlling rates and infrastructure, mandating levels of access, and interfering with how Internet service providers operate.
This article was posted: Monday, November 24, 2014 at 11:24 am