November 7, 2011


FCC Regulation run amok

by Nori
Categories: Government, Politics, Wising up
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Maria Cantwell is supporting the FCC’s increased interference in the free market.  I can’t remember exactly what I sent her, but her reply is as follows.

In October 2007, the Associated Press confirmed through online tests that Comcast was secretly blocking its customers’ lawful use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer audio and video Internet applications. The company claimed that it only blocked the peer-to-peer Internet traffic to relieve congestion on its broadband network. Two public interest groups filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Upon closer examination, the FCC determined that this was not the case. In 2008, the FCC issued an order finding that Comcast was in violation of federal Internet policy and told the company to stop the practice. Comcast settled the complaint with the FCC. The company also took the FCC to federal court, challenging the Commission’s authority to have any say over how it manages its broadband network. After the Commission deregulated broadband over cable modems in 2002 and broadband over phone lines (DSL) in 2005, the Commission has relied on its so-called “ancillary authority” in Title I of the Communications Act to oversee broadband Internet.

In April, 2010, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Commission’s ancillary authority in Title I does not provide a sufficient statutory basis to tell Comcast how to manage its network because it did not identify “any express statutory delegation of authority” from Congress with respect to broadband Internet service. The Court decision did not state that the FCC could not issue any rules or orders related to broadband Internet service, but that any rules or orders must be tied back to sections of the Communications Act where Congress has given the agency express authority. Taken broadly, the Court decision undermines the basis from which the FCC uses to protect and empower consumers on the Internet. Additionally, the Court’s decision makes it difficult or impossible for the Commission to implement sections of the National Broadband Plan.

On December 21, 2010, the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking laying out a new framework to protect the open Internet. The Commission chose not to reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service and apply the full suite of provisions established in Title II of the Communications Act, and instead chose to base its framework on Title I of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While the Commission’s proposal is better than no protections at all, it does not prohibit broadband Internet providers from requiring content, service, or application providers from paying for prioritized delivery of their Internet Protocol (IP) packets, also known as pay-for priority. The proposed order also treats mobile broadband Internet differently from fixed broadband.

I believe this framework is not strong enough to make certain that consumers have access to the content of their choosing and the Internet continues to be a source of economic dynamism. Without strong protections, broadband Internet providers will likely favor their own or affiliated content, service, and applications because they have the economic incentives and technical means to do so. This could lead to a tiered Internet with premium fast lanes and slow lanes for the rest of us. We can’t afford to let this happen if our nation is to achieve the important broadband goals put forward in the National Broadband Plan.

For these reasons, on January 25, 2011, I introduced the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011 (S. 74). My legislation applies to all broadband Internet providers, prohibiting them from discriminating against internet traffic or requiring content, service, or application providers to pay for prioritized delivery of their IP packets (pay-for-priority). It promotes the adoption of broadband, by requiring broadband providers to provide service to an end-user upon reasonable request and to offer standalone broadband Internet access at reasonable rates, terms, and conditions. The bill directs the FCC that if it extends the Universal Service Fund (USF) to include broadband access, only those broadband providers offering standalone broadband Internet access service will be able to participate in the new broadband fund. It also allows broadband end users who believe their broadband provider has violated their net neutrality obligations to file a complaint at either the FCC or a U.S. District Court. Lastly, it requires broadband providers to describe their network management practices to end-users.

And my reply was:

In your email to me of Nov 7 you listed all the reasons why you support the Internet Freedom legislation currently being presented. What you have failed to grasp is that all of these things you see as problems can and will be solved naturally using free market principles if the government will get and stay out of the way.

I use a torrent client for data transfer. I just spent 12 days waiting for Sprint to solve a slow data stream issue. This is not something I see the need for the government to interfere in.

I have the ability to use my customer dollars to leverage my internet service provider’s quality of service. I do NOT need or want the government establishing any rules that change the interaction between me and my service provider.

Get out of the way. If people want internet that answers to the free market, we MUST get the government out of the way. The government has to stop trying to regulate commerce. It is bad for the country and it is lethal to our freedoms.

What you are supporting is bad legislation. You think you’re helping and you aren’t. You’re increasing the grasp of government and interfering where interference is not needed.

So many of our liberal congressmen fail to grasp the value of a truly free market.  They see what they do as helpful and beneficial with no real understanding how the free market system works.  We need more Friedman and Hayek and much less Keynes.  I’m not holding my breath.