Skip to comments.Red Tape Under the Tree: FCC Plans Internet Regulation for Christmas
Posted on 12/19/2010 11:55:31 AM PST by IbJensen
We have two branches of governmentCongress and the courtsexpressing grave concerns with our agency becoming increasingly unmoored from our statutory authority. By seeking to regulate the Internet now, we exceed the authority Congress has given us, and justify those concerns.
FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker
Should regulators in Washington, D.C., set the rules for the Internet? Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), thinks so. He has crafted a plan to impose so-called net neutrality rules on Internet service providers, setting an FCC vote on the proposal for next Tuesday.
Details of the plan are not yet known outside the commission and will likely not be released until after the commission votes. It is reportedly based on a net neutrality plan floated a month ago in Congress. That plan, however, was soundly rejected by Congress. The Genachowski planwhich would end-run Congressshould be rejected as well. What Is Net Neutrality?
Generally, net neutrality refers to the principle that owners of broadband networks should treat all traffic on their networks equally. This has long been an operational principle on the Web, although in practice there have always been exceptions, and the principle has never been enshrined in any law or regulation.
In 2005, the FCC took the first steps toward making the net neutrality principle mandatory, adopting a set of four guidelines regarding neutrality on the Web. These guidelines declared that consumers are entitled to run applications, connect to devices, and access content of their choice on the Web and enjoy a choice of broadband providers. While these guidelines were ostensibly non-binding, the commission relied upon them in an action against Comcast in 2008, whenin an effort to stop bandwidth hogs from interfering with Internet use by less intensive usersthe Internet service provider slowed downloads rates for users of certain peer-to-peer software.
After Genachowski took over the chairmanship last year, the commission quickly moved to expand the guidelines, adopting a proposal to make them explicitly binding and enlarge their scope. Lack of Legal Authority
In taking these steps toward neutrality regulation, however, the FCC faced an inconvenient obstacle: Nothing in any statute gives the FCC authority to regulate the Internet. To get past this jurisdictional gap, the FCC relied on an odd legal theory known as ancillary jurisdiction. Under this doctrine, the FCC may regulate in areas where it has not expressly been granted power so long as such regulation is reasonably ancillary to areas where is does have authority. In other words, the argument went, as in a game of horseshoes, close is good enough for FCC jurisdiction.
In April, however, a federal appeals court rejected this argument, finding that the FCC does not have untrammeled freedom to regulate activities over which the statute fails to confer. While the court did not reject outright the concept of ancillary jurisdiction, it did allow it to be used only when necessary for the agency to achieve a goal explicitly mandated by law. Legislation Rejected
Various proposals to provide the FCC with the missing authority have been advanced in Congress. Most recently, Representative Henry Waxman (DCA) floated a proposal to allow the FCC to stop unreasonable discrimination. This failed to get support, however, as has every other proposal to grant the FCC regulatory power over the Internet.
The proposal to be voted on at the FCC on Tuesday is an attempt to move forward with regulation despite the absence of congressional approval. Like the Waxman plan, it is expected to forbid unjust or unreasonable discrimination, leaving the exact practices to be banned to case-by-case decision making.
Many hard-core regulation supporters are disappointed with the plan and are instead urging that the FCC ban discrimination outright. That would be dangerous, as there are many reasons that differentiation among different types of content could make economic sense or even be critical to managing a network. With increasing demands on the Internet, certain types of prioritization common in other industriessuch as selling premium or discount access to content providerscould be beneficial to users. More immediately, growing use of the Web is making active management of that traffic (such as controlling bandwidth-hogging) critical.
While the FCC plan would not bar all discrimination, it would vest vast discretion in the FCC to determine what is allowed and what is not. Critical decisions as to what is permitted and what is not would be left to the political whims of five FCC members. At best, that will create an unpredictable atmosphere, with firms left unsure whether their activities will be deemed acceptable. At worst, it will lead to abuse and political game-playing. Level 3
Case in point: Earlier this month, communications provider Level 3 got into a business spat with Comcast over how much it will pay, if anything, Comcast to handle traffic from Level 3s network. Such negotiations are common among networks, and the longstanding system of private interconnection agreements has worked quite well. Yet Level 3 claimed that Comcasts request for payment to carry Level 3s traffic violates net neutrality rules. The claim caused a political stir that promises to help Level 3 in its ongoing negotiations. The incident is likely a harbinger of rent-seeking to come under a net neutrality regime, as firmsas well as political advocates of all stripesuse vague neutrality rules to advance their interests.
The overall result would be bad news not just for Web surfers but also for the economy as a whole. Investment in broadband today is one of the few bright spots of the economy, with providers expected to invest some $30 billion per year in private capital into their networks annually for the next five years, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Neutrality rules would threaten that investment and those jobs by hindering efficient network management and creating uncertainty. Strained Connections
At the same time, it is still unclear how the FCC will manufacture the necessary legal authority to do any of this. While the commission may point to various parts of the Communications Act that cover some aspects of broadband Internet servicesuch as regulation of cable TV and licensing wireless transmissionsthe connections between these and regulation of the Web are tenuous and strained. As a result, whatever is voted on will likely be quickly struck down in court.
Yet it appears that Genachowski intends to ignore Congress, ignore the law, and ignore the potential damage to the economy and the Internet itself in order to impose regulation. Policymakers should not wait for the courts to strike down this ill-conceived regulation. The commission should vote it down on Tuesday. If it does not, Congress should use its power to intervene and nullify the rule.
Until it's all over?
Nothing. Congress granted the charter for the FCC and can yank it. The issue is, WILL THEY?
Well, you could just wait until your very few choices of internet providers(why isn’t THAT being fought by the GOP?), blocks sites like freerepublic because they can. You’ll have little to no options in getting access.
I hope all you folks who are against net neutrality open up your eyes and see how the internet will be destroyed by monetizing every bit of data.
You want to stream netflix movies? You’ll have to buy the highest tier package. You want access to Fox News, FreeRepublic, Drudge, etc...? Sorry, we don’t have those sites, go find another provider.
You people are clueless.
A democrat senate and a presidential veto.
It would help if we knew what they were going to try to force on us, the tyrants should be lined up and shot.
Congress could pull the charter, but would it matter? If the FCC wants to monitor/regulate the Internet they will. obama, this congress, and all their allies have shown us they don’t need to listen to us or honor existing regulations. What happens now?
STOP FUNDING THE FCC ALONG WITH THE U.N., DOE, AND TELL
HOLDER THE RACIST, THEY WILL WITHHOLD FUNDS FOR JUSTICE UNTIL HE PUBLICLY STATES THAT WHITES WILL ALSO BE PROTECTED AND DEFENDED BY THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FOR VOTING IRREGULARITIES ETC.
Equality in internet speeds basically. You can’t have faster internet that anyone else.
Chairman Julius Genachowski Julius Genachowski was nominated by President Barack Obama to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission on March 23, 2009. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on June 25, 2009, and sworn in as FCC Commissioner on June 29, 2009.
Commissioner Michael J. Copps Joined the FCC on May 31, 2001 and was sworn in for his second term in December 2005. Copps served until January 2001 as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries. Copps came to Washington in 1970, joining the staff of Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and serving for over a dozen years as Chief of Staff. He has also held positions at a Fortune 500 company and at a major trade association. Before coming to Washington, Copps was a professor of U.S. History at Loyola University of the South. Copps received a B.A. from Wofford College and earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Commissioner Robert M. McDowell Robert M. McDowell was first appointed to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2006. When he was reappointed to the Commission on June 2, 2009, Commissioner McDowell became the first Republican to be appointed to an independent agency by President Barack Obama. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on June 25, 2009.
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Mignon Clyburn was nominated for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President Barack Obama on June 25, 2009. She was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 24, 2009, and sworn-in as Commissioner on August 3, 2009.
Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker Meredith Attwell Baker was nominated for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President Barack Obama on June 25, 2009. She was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 24, 2009, and sworn in as Commissioner on July 31, 2009.
Too late, the deck has been stacked by the Dems. 4 to 1!
DEFUND, DEFUND, and DEFUND!
Seizing control of a public service like the internet for the purpose of denying free speech to Americans ought to be a capital crime with the punishment prescribed for any capital crime (and I don’t mean incarceration for a long time).
And where are the republicans on this? MIA - I hate republicans more then democrats!
Is it time yet?
Noted. All ‘unanimously’ confirmed.
Almost ... for the time being, BLOAT.
this is the crux of the argument!!!
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