Meddling, by Any Other Name

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The New York Times reports that the FCC is about to propose regulating the Internet like a "public" utility. Not being familiar with the regulatory environment that already surrounds some of the possibly rent-seeking companies that might be affected, I will content myself to point out one thing about this scheme: Like so much other government meddling, is premised on a lie from the outset. Consider these paragraphs from the story:

The change, the analysts and others say, which has been pushed by President Obama, would give the commission strong legal authority to ensure that no content is blocked and no so-called pay-to-play fast lanes exist -- prohibitions that are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

But Tom Wheeler, the F.C.C. chairman, will advocate a light-touch approach to Title II, they say, shunning the more intrusive aspects of utility-style regulation, like meddling in pricing decisions. He may also suggest putting wireless data services under Title II and adding regulations for companies that manage the backbone of the Internet. [links dropped]
Too late, Mr. Wheeler! The whole idea behind "Net Neutrality" is meddling with "pricing decisions". And so what if, as the article notes, "there is no guarantee that future commissions will be similarly restrained" -- as this one, which is paving the way for some future "unrestrained" commission.

One final note: The notion of regulating Internet providers like utilities has been bandied about for the better part of a decade -- by conservatives. So take no solace in the GOP majorities in both houses of Congress.

-- CAV

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