• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Linguistic Gerrymandering: The FCC Moves to Regulate the Internet

    Federal Communications Commission Logo

    It’s been a bad week for the rule of law. First, President Obama — without any apparent legal authority — “informs” BP that it is to hand over $20 billion into an escrow fund, or else. Not to be outdone, the Federal Communications Commission this morning voted 3-2 to take the first steps toward regulating the Internet. The decision comes only two months after a federal court — rather definitively – ruled that the agency had no authority to do take that step.

    Specifically, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April that the Communications Act only allows the FCC to regulate “telecommunications” service.” And, since the agency has earlier concluded that broadband Internet service was NOT “telecommunications,” that means — the court decided — the FCC generally could not regulate broadband. So how does the FCC, led by Chairman Julius Genachowski, propose to get around that problem? By re-defining broadband as a “telecommunications service,” after all.

    Never mind that the initial classification of broadband was the result of a years-long inquiry by the Commission. The FCC (or at least 3 out of its 5 members) wants to regulate broadband. And if only telecommunications can be regulated, then its telecommunications. It’s reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Humpty-Dumpty, who famously said: “when I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

    It’s more than a linguistic battle. If adopted, the change would open the way for the Commission to impose so-called “net neutrality” rules, limiting how owners of broadband networks can manage the traffic they carry. The result could be grim. According to one study released just this week, neutrality rules could cost the economy up to 600,000 jobs and $80 billion dollars.

    Today’s decision is a first step along that road. Specifically, the commission launched a formal inquiry into re-classifying broadband. Its not clear, however, when Chairman Genachowski will move to finalize the reclassification. Opposition to the plan has been fierce — not just from the firms to be regulated, but from members of Congress, including many Democrats. All told, some 291 members have expressed concerns about the proposal — seeing not just economic harm, but a threat to their role as lawmakers. Moreover, once a decision is finalized, it will still face scrutiny by the courts, which are apt to look at such linguistic gerrymandering skeptically.

    All of this, however, could take years. And in the meantime, Internet providers and users will face uncertainty over the future of their services and their investments. The question now, as Lewis Carroll would put it, is how do we get out of this rabbit hole?

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Linguistic Gerrymandering: The FCC Moves to Regulate the Internet

    1. Bobbie Jo says:

      these guys have been doing the "humpty dumpty" since obama faced the public. Can't believe a word they (president, of course included) say without asking for details and specifics. Not a word! Look what they've done because no one asked! Just remember, they deceive to further their agenda…and that's all they've been doing…

    2. Pingback: Linguistic Gerrymandering: The FCC Moves to Regulate the Internet « Internet Freedom Coalition

    3. SparetheChange -- Ru says:

      This administration shows all intention of controlling all communications and media

      with the taxing of those media outlets which do not support the "PARTY LINE" to provide for subsidies for those who do support it. You still have the right to free speech, it just won't be free. Once the government controls the Internet, along with the ability to suspend it at will there will no longer be free speech. I urge every person who cherish their Rights to become familiar with the Constitution of the United States of America and share your voice and opinion with your elected Representatives and Senators and replace those who do not represent your views. Remember in November

    4. Bruce Rubin says:

      THE ACTIONS OF A COMPANY OF FOREIGN COUNTRY THAT WE BROKE AWAY FROM HAS PUT THE HERITAGE OF OUR ENTIRE COAST IN PERIL AND POSSIBLY THE ENTIRE OCEAN. THIRTY PERCENT OF THIS COUNTRIES SEAFOOD COMES FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO AND MORE THAN 70 PERCENT OF AMERICAS INDIGENOUS SEAFOOD COMES FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO.THE COASTAL PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA TO TEXAS IS AMERICA'S HERITAGE AND SHAKING DOWN BP FOR 20 BILLION DOLLARS IS A MILD PUNISHMENT. IF A FOREIGN COUNTRY HAD BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR TAKING DOWN THE DEEPWATER HORIZON RIG IT WOULD OF BEEN CONSIDERED AN ACT OF WAR. 20 BILLION IS NOT MUCH FOR AN ACT OF STUPIDITY.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×