Tags: internet | regulation | net | neutrality | fcc

Reports Suggest FCC Poised to Regulate Internet

By    |   Wednesday, 08 October 2014 10:40 PM

There has been mounting evidence in the last two weeks that the Internet, one of the last unregulated venues for communication, might well be headed for federal regulation.

What makes the specter of Internet regulation (or "net neutrality," as its proponents prefer to call it) all the more ominous is that it might become law through rulings by the Federal Communications Commission rather than a vote of elected representatives in Congress.

On Sept. 24, the Washington Post reported that the FCC was working with activists seeking to generate comments in favor of tough, 1930s-style regulation of telephone. In what the Post’s Nancy Scola dubbed "an unusual collaboration," supporters of net neutrality "were keeping up a round-the-clock watch of ECFS’s [Electronic Comment Filing System] health. Headquartered in Southwest Washington, D.C., the FCC’s technologists were doing the same.

Noting that the ECFS system for public engagement on communications issues is 17 years old and "isn’t up to the age of digital engagement," reporter Scola noted that "all involved saw the deluge coming and activists — planning a one-day ‘Internet Slowdown’ that called on the public to contact the FCC — reached out to the bureaucrats to see how they might keep the system afloat."

By the time the September 15 deadline rolled around for public comments on "so-called net neutrality," Scola reported, 3.7 million comments had been recorded by the federal government, more than the FCC has gotten on any debate in its 80-year history."

Opponents of "so-called net neutrality" hit this hard.

"If the Post’s report is accurate," wrote Mike Wendy of MediaFreedom in an open letter to the FCC Inspector General, then his organization "believes this ‘unusual collaboration’ undermines the Commission’s open rulemaking process, revealing in it a bias that defeats the needed reason and factual underpinning for a lawful rule to result."

Wendy called on the Inspector General "to look into this matter to ensure that the public interest was not harmed by the reported actions."

Last week, a coalition of groups opposing Internet regulation followed up with a hard-hitting letter to Obama-appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler voicing outrage over what it called "the agency’ loss of objectivity and impartiality in recent proceedings, especially the FCC’s ongoing Open Internet rulemaking."

"It is deeply disturbing that FCC staff appear to be disregarding arguments that do not fit a preconceived agenda," said Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, which organized over 800,000 comments against net neutrality. "As an independent, expert agency, the FCC has an obligation to weigh arguments and evidence evenly before making decisions. However, the FCC’s recent process failures threaten one of the greatest assets of any independent agency: its perceived objectivity."

Among those in the new coalition include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Individual Freedom, FreedomWorks, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

At this point, the circumstantial evidence of FCC collusion with those seeking Internet regulation and perhaps a tax on the net seems strong. As to whether this collusion will triumph, some opponents are not so sure.

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who chaired the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce for the nation’s Republican governors in 2000, was successful in stopping all taxation or commerce on the Internet.

"The public would be better off if had the option of commerce on the Internet without additional taxes," Gilmore told Newsmax, "No one has yet figured out how to properly tax or regulate the net. And you can’t control what you can’t regulate."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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There has been mounting evidence in the last two weeks that the Internet, one of the last unregulated venues for communication, might well be headed for federal regulation.
internet, regulation, net, neutrality, fcc
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 10:40 PM
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