Tag Archives: FCC

With the government’s Net Neutrality, the only winner is the government… (Funny how that’s always the result of more regulation, isn’t it?)

FCC and Net Neutrality

With a regulated Internet, consumers lose because businesses discover they can get ahead by pleasing politicians. Consumers are just collateral damage when businesses do not get customers through market competition, but by getting cozy with those who regulate the businesses. Consumers win only when businesses compete. 

(NORM ‘n’ AL Note: This article was written by a former FCC commissioner who knows precisely how the FCC and the US government operate. Please share this post with everyone you know who uses the Internet!)

Just a few short years ago, the mantra in both Silicon Valley and Washington was “Do Not Regulate the Internet.” Politicians of all political persuasions used those four words to signal support for the Internet. How times have changed.

Today, many Internet companies genuinely support the FCC’s regulation of the Internet. Perhaps those companies take the Federal Communications Commission at its word that it will apply only the lightest touch of regulation. Perhaps they think support of network neutrality will curry favor with the administration on other issues. Perhaps they think they will be able to harness the power of the federal government against their rivals.

The elegance of the FCC’s action, popularly known as Network Neutrality, is that Silicon Valley actively welcomed it. Businesses wise to the ways of the Internet, but remarkably naive about the ways of Washington, think that network neutrality is a good idea. Washington defeated and subjugated Silicon Valley without a fight.

Of course, Washington may yet suffer setbacks in the Internet Wars. Judges may suggest that the FCC has exceeded its powers. Title II regulation of the Internet is not in the law. If anything, statutes warn against Title II for the Internet.

But in recent years, many judges have grown weary of telecommunications cases under Title II. The cases involve engineering concepts with obscure words and more obscure definitions. A good judge can wade through difficult technical arguments. Or a good judge can cite Chevron deference and move on to the next case. It is about a 50-50 chance which way the Title II case will go.

The FCC is on even weaker grounds with “forbearance,” the concept the FCC has been touting as a way not to impose all of the punishing regulations of Title II. This means that the FCC has the power to regulate the Internet but will forbear from doing so.

The FCC’s legal theory of forbearance likely will not work. The commission has never before designated a service as a “telecommunications service” and, in the same breath, determined that the vast majority of regulations, as a result of regulation, need not apply. Indeed, the FCC has never determined that the vast majority of regulations need not apply for any service, no matter how competitive. Advocacy groups and competitors will, no doubt, march into court and challenge the FCC’s flimsy pretense of forbearance. On this specific issue, the FCC is likely to lose.

Stated differently, those looking to the courts to protect the American consumer and Silicon Valley from the excesses of the FCC are likely to be disappointed. A very possible outcome is the worst of all worlds: Title II regulation with little or no forbearance.

Of course, even if the FCC were to prevail on forbearance in court, it is of little comfort to the American consumer. An FCC that can wave a magic wand to forbear from a regulation today can wave the same wand tomorrow and regulate once again. The raised eyebrow will be ever vigilant in observing which companies have been nice, and which don’t deserved continued forbearance.

The power of the FCC under network neutrality to regulate the Internet, if not constrained by judges, will be neither light nor lenient. Friends can be helped and enemies punished, but the discretion to use the power will reside in Washington, not Silicon Valley.

Under the old Internet, businesses competed against rivals for consumers with better products, better services and better ideas. Under the new Internet, one seeks to have a Washington bureaucracy hobble a rival.

Under the old Internet, businesses succeeded with innovative technological and market ideas. Under the new Internet, businesses will succeed with innovative legal and regulatory ideas.

The FCC promises that it will use a light touch in regulation. Washington deception is an opiate for the investment analytical masses. Title II, euphemistically called Network Neutrality, gives the FCC the power to regulate practically every business decision of every Internet company.

Some naïve analysts believe the only harm of Title II is price regulation. Price regulation is only the last in a long line of punishing regulations the FCC will impose on the Internet industry. Limitations on expansions and contractions of services; limitations on the use of customer information; limitations on privacy; limitations on disability access; billions of dollars of annual payments for state and federal fees and taxes; threats of actions; and countless unknown other surprises await the well-behaved Internet company. Price regulation is just the prison cell that awaits firms that are not defeated by other regulations.

And for the less-than-well-behaved Internet company, the punishments of raised eyebrows are unending. Donate to the wrong political party; make an unwelcome statement; dare to challenge the Internet regulator. Those are the mistakes made by companies unaware that Internet wars were lost by Silicon Valley. Washington won.

Consumers are the collateral damage. Every partisan in Washington claims to represent consumers. Of course, consumers had real friends on the Internet. Those were the companies that, as a result of unregulated competition, offered better products and services. The next day, they were replaced by even more competitive companies offering even better products and services. When businesses compete on the Internet, consumers are sovereign.

In a regulated Internet, consumers lose because businesses get ahead by pleasing Washington, not competing for customers. Consumers lose.

Today, Silicon Valley is — or was — a beacon of hope and inspiration not only to the best and brightest of the world but to ordinary individuals seeking a better life and a better way of life, free from the crushing power of a too-powerful government. Now that Silicon Valley has been defeated by Washington, what will be that beacon of hope?

[by Harold Furchtgott-Roth, former FCC commissioner and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and founder of Hudson’s Center for the Economics of the Internet. This article appeared on MARKETWATCH.]
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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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The same people who said “sign up or pay a fine” when they brought you their wonderful Obamacare program are now insisting they should control your Internet, too…

If you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet. Sounds uncomfortably familiar…

FCC Chairman Wheeler would only release a four-page summary of the plan. Under the guise of something dubiously called “net neutrality,” Barack Obama’s FCC is promising to use its heavy hand to “regulate” the Internet so that its use is “fair.”

We’re being told not to worry… nothing in the secret 332-page plan should be a cause for alarm and if you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet.

Fortunately, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has actually seen the 332-page edict and we’ll let his warning speak for itself:

First, President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works. It’s an overreach that will let a Washington bureaucracy, and not the American people, decide the future of the online world.

       Second, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will increase consumers’ monthly broadband bills. The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband. Indeed, states have already begun discussions on how they will spend the extra money.

       Third, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will mean slower broadband for American consumers. The plan contains a host of new regulations that will reduce investment in broadband networks. That means slower Internet speeds.

       Fourth, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will hurt competition and innovation and move us toward a broadband monopoly. The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market. As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get. We shouldn’t bring Ma Bell back to life in this dynamic, digital age.

       Fifth, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet is an unlawful power grab. Courts have twice thrown out the FCC’s attempts at Internet regulation. There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.

And sixth, the American people are being misled about what is in Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet. The rollout earlier in the week was obviously intended to downplay the plan’s massive intrusion into the Internet economy.

You read that right. New taxes… less choice… slower Internet speeds…and that’s just for starters.  Obama’s entire philosophy about government — because that’s all he’s ever done, is work at a government job — is very simple. In a nutshell, it’s this: “Government always knows best…and when I’m in charge of the government, I always know best.”

Socialism For The Internet

That’s what Seton Motley, the president of Less Government and an expert on the subject, calls it.  Motley adds: “It’s an assault on the industry to effect an ideological outcome” so “the government will be able to pick winners and losers.”

       Washington Times columnist and syndicated radio talk show host Tammy Bruce goes a step further and claims: “The Internet must be killed because it dares to keep turning on the light in a room that the left wants to remain dark.”   Bruce goes on: “This would be done to make the Internet more ‘fair,’ of course. But the truth of the matter is it’s an excuse to essentially nationalize the Internet. The moment that’s accepted, all bets are off….”

       Senator John Thune says: “It is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bullying tactics of political activists and the president.”

       But radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have said it best: “[D]o you want the people who gave you Obamacare running your Internet service? Do you want them in charge of what you can get and when you can get it and how much it’s gonna cost you?”

[from PATRIOT UPDATE]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  If you use the Internet, you already know how expensive it can be NOW.  The same liar who told you that his new healthcare plan was going to “save the average family $2500 a year” wants you to believe he has your best interests at heart as he takes over the Internet.  Once the US government controls the Internet, do you think it will possibly get cheaper? And better? And faster? Not a chance! As painful as it is to say, the US government does not know how to get out of its own way, even when it’s NOT lying!  So far, everything Obama has touched has gotten worse.  Huge budget deficits. The military situation in the Middle East. Astronomical increases to federal debt…which American citizens are legally responsible for paying. A healthcare program that individuals and businesses all hate because it takes away everyone’s ability to choose, and it costs lots more, not less. Obamacare was presented — sold — with malice and with lies.  Deliberate lies. We were just too stupid to be told the truth, remember? And you think that same White House is going to tell you the truth now about its plan to control the Internet? You don’t think there is probably a very good reason that Obama and his FCC have not released the text of his takeover plan?  Obamacare was all about controlling US citizens by controlling their health care options.  The Internet takeover plan is just more of the same.

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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Obama lets us down on net neutrality…gosh, are we surprised, since he’s never let us down before…

As a campaigner, Barack Obama forcefully promised to preserve so-called net-neutrality rules on Internet service providers. Now he’s letting his FCC chairman quietly re-write the industry’s rules.

As president, he appears to be caving in to the telecommunications industry and breaking that promise, which probably means we’re about to start seeing changes in the way the Internet functions that could diminish the qualities that have made it such a disruptive and consumer-friendly communications tool.

Net neutrality is shorthand for rules that prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating against web content they don’t like on their networks — or allowing some web content providers to pay for priority delivery to subscribers on a cyber fast lane.

Such rules have essentially been in place since the dawn of the Internet, and they seem to have worked pretty well. Last January, however, the D.C. Circuit struck them down in a case brought by the telecom industry, ruling that Obama’s FCC doesn’t currently have the authority to enforce net neutrality rules on ISPs. To gain that authority, the FCC would have to adopt a more aggressive regulatory approach toward these companies, and the commission’s recent actions are a telltale sign that it doesn’t plan on taking that step.

Our prez, Mr. Obummer...

Specifically, imposing and enforcing real net-neutrality rules on the telecom industry would require the FCC to reclassify broadband giants like Comcast, AT&T  and Verizon as utility services, or “common carriers,” under federal law — Title II of the 1934 Communications Act — as opposed to their current status as “information services,” which limits the commission’s regulatory authority over them.

The industry, well-known for its heavy campaign spending and political heft in Washington D.C., opposes such a move, of course. Last week, Obama’s FCC signaled opposition as well with a new rules proposal, but it lamely invited public comment on the issue and said it would consider reclassification — as if there hasn’t been more than enough time spent and public comments made on this subject already.

In his first term, Obama appointed as FCC commissioner an attorney and digital-media entrepreneur, Julius Genachowski, who sought to reclassify broadband providers under Title II in order to pursue net-neutrality regulation. Genachowski got rolled by the industry on that. He eventually gave up on reclassification and left the post in early 2013 to ultimately join the Carlyle Group, a private-equity titan known for its roster of Beltway insiders.

Next up in the revolving door, Obama appointed the current FCC commissioner, Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the telecommunications industry who had served as president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), a group that’s now leading the industry’s opposition to reclassification. He had also raised substantial amounts of money for both Obama’s presidential campaigns, which probably helped.

Does this sound like a guy who is likely to work toward preserving net neutrality? I think not.

Sure enough, news leaked in late April that Wheeler was planning to come out with a new proposal for broadband regulation that would enable paid prioritization of web content, which would make it easier for large, established companies with deep pockets to purchase access to a fast lane on broadband networks, giving their content a big advantage over the rest of the content on the web. This provoked a backlash of public outcry, media criticism and public opposition from former FCC commissioners and tech industry giants, including Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter.

That put Wheeler and the FCC on the defensive, and the proposal that finally became public last week reads like a paean to net neutrality, or their preferred term, an “open Internet.”

“The prospect of a gatekeeper choosing winners and losers on the Internet is unacceptable,” said Wheeler in a statement accompanying the new proposal, adding, “I understand this issue in my bones.”

The proposal itself is a monument to euphemism, long-winded legalese, subterfuge, prevarication and empty platitudes. It appears to a casual reader that the proposal is an impassioned defense of “a free and open Internet,” whatever that means, and a call to action on net neutrality. But professional FCC watchers report that various passages from the proposal confirm a shift toward a looser definition of net neutrality that allows for paid prioritization of content, confirming the early reports and the resulting controversy .

It’s a shame that the FCC seems unable to acknowledge this important shift to the public in plain English and explain the reason for it. This inability fuels my suspicion that Wheeler is really an industry tool that has been put in place at the FCC to reward campaign donors and further the interests of the very industry he is charged with regulating while taking pains to craft a public perception that the administration remains true to Obama’s campaign pledges to uphold net neutrality.

Many in the media love to dismiss net neutrality as an issue that makes people’s eyes glaze over, and it’s true that it is a bit wonky, especially for people who are uncomfortable with the Internet and digital technologies. But for many, particularly young people who grew up with the Internet and are enthusiastic about its possibilities, this is an issue about freedom of speech and expression, and preserving some semblance of a level playing field for businesses in the digital age.

Meanwhile, it would be a shame to allow this issue to be consumed by the empty-headed, ideological rhetoric of left vs. right — government action vs. laissez faire — that dominates the Beltway and cable news. The Internet, which has basically had net neutrality in place since it began, is becoming the dominant platform for communications and commerce for most Americans. It’s delivered on publicly owned property — telephone poles and the wirelines they support — and it’s clearly a utility service that comes into people’s homes to deliver information that is a basic necessity for functioning in our society, getting a job, keeping a job, buying health-care insurance, etc.

The idea that ISPs would be regulated by the FCC as the utilities that they are should not be a controversial or a partisan idea. It’s simple common sense.

[by Nat Worden, writing for MARKETWATCH]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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