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  • FCC’s Christmas Gift for the Internet: Net Neutrality Regulation

    Federal Communications Commission Logo

    Should bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., set rules for the Internet? Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), thinks so. In remarks today, he stated that he had developed a new plan to impose so-called “net neutrality” rules on Internet service providers, setting a vote on the issue for December 21.

    Details of the plan are yet to be released, but the chairman indicated that the plan was based on a legislative proposal floated a month ago by Representative Henry Waxman (D–CA). That plan, however, was soundly rejected by Congress. Genachowski’s plan—which the FCC would adopt without specific approval by Congress—should be rejected as well.

    The Waxman proposal would have banned Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast from managing the flow of traffic on their networks in a way that “unjustly or unreasonably” discriminates against particular types of content. The new rules would have been enforced on a case-by-case basis by the FCC. This plan was an improvement from earlier calls by regulation proponents to ban nearly all types of traffic management. But the case-by-case approach leaves vast discretion in the hands of the FCC: Could a provider take steps to limit “bandwidth hogs” who are consuming vast amounts of available capacity? Could it offer “priority service” to willing content providers for a fee? These questions are left for the commission to handle at its discretion. Such discretion is not only dangerous, but it is hardly likely to create the consistent regulatory atmosphere necessary to encourage needed investment in the Internet.

    Moreover, the approach would no doubt encourage gamesmanship by businesses of all sorts. That was shown earlier this week, when communications provider Level 3, in a business spat with Comcast over how much it would pay Comcast—if anything—for Comcast to handle traffic from Level 3’s network. Such negotiations are common among networks, and the longstanding system of private interconnection agreements has worked quite well. Yet Level 3 now claims that Comcast’s request for payment to carry Level 3’s traffic violates net neutrality rules. The argument is hogwash, but it has caused a political stir that promises to help Level 3 in its ongoing negotiations.

    Whatever happens on December 21, the net neutrality issue is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. To start with, the FCC has no apparent statutory authority to regulate the Internet at all. Nothing in the Communications Act explicitly gives the FCC power to regulate, and just this spring a federal court firmly rejected the FCC’s argument for “ancillary” jurisdiction. It will take some fancy footwork for FCC lawyers to find an alternative argument.

    At the same time, Congress seems dead set against such regulation. The Waxman proposal, for instance, got nowhere fast, and the new Congress will certainly be more skeptical of such regulation.

    Yet it appears that Genachowski intends to ignore the courts—and ignore Congress—in order to impose regulation. Hopefully, wiser heads among the five members of the FCC will prevail. If not, Congress should use its power to intervene.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    39 Responses to FCC’s Christmas Gift for the Internet: Net Neutrality Regulation

    1. Red River TEXAS says:

      Control our health care, control our food, control the internet all great ways to keep the American people in the dark so this administration can do as they dang well please. Not only have they ignored the constitution, they've blown their noses on it.

    2. Dave, NJ says:

      Will regulation of shipping be next? If someone wants package or letter to arrive somewhere in a short amount of time they pay a premium for it. No one blinks an eye at this; why now do we have people getting in a snit for a similar arrangement on the internet.

      If we let them proceed with this; what's to stop them from expanding? Where will it end.

      Not to say that some common sense shouldn't be exercised. I pay for a high capacity internet service. If my provided is going to sell me the bandwidth there is a reasonable expectation that I'm going to use it. I should not be further penalized or nickeled and dimed because I do use it.

      The tenacity of the regulatory junkies is amazing and unfortunately all to predictable. If they can't get what they want through the front door they always try the back door.

      Bottom line more regulation is almost never the answer – especially when what they produce is vague and poorly written.

    3. Bobbie says:

      To start with, the FCC has no apparent statutory authority to regulate the Internet at all. Continuing waste of time and money as their job isn't described interference with Americas freedoms. It is a danger as they refuse honesty to the people, they want to make sure the people are kept from it.

    4. David, Arkansas says:

      Network neutrality regulations are a necessary measure. Network neutrality is not some new thing, it is the default condition of the internet since the invention of the IP stack. Internet service providers across the country hold monopolies or non-competitive duopolies where they operate, and now wish to abuse this power to make more money from customers who, in the modern world, need the internet and can't get it from anyone else.

      Fix the lack of competition first, then let the networks be non-neutral.

    5. Ben says:

      If the FCC tries to enforce anything on the internet without an act of Congress, then everyone from Obama on down should be handed a pink slip along with a copy of "The Constitution for Dummies". Seriously, while the EPA at least has justification for pushing their CO2 nonsense (faulty or not, they believe there is an eminent threat). The FCC has no justification for dancing on the graves of our founding fathers.

    6. Ken says:

      David,

      Where I live there are several choices to gain access to the internet. Competition is already available. How can competition be "created" if there is no need for it? If your local provider starts charging too much then maybe another provider will decide money can be made by moving into the market.

    7. al west spfld mass says:

      time to get tough with these jerks if you get my drift…..

    8. Harlan Florida says:

      Net neutrality is just a step in the direction of content control. If there are more than one provider, and one is a friend of the half-breed, and you post something negative about him, you can bet that what you wrote will be reported, and then removed. Or maybe even by then, could impose a fine of some sorts.We may have to go back to snail mail to send something important about what is being done to the people.

    9. Tom Dooley says:

      Maybe I misunderstand all this. I pay Comcast to provide me internet access, and they publish a data rate associated with the service. I pay Netflix to provide me with on demand streaming entertainment. As long as I receive the bandwidth for which I have been charged I have no complaint, and I should have bandwidth to spare.

      However if Comcast charges Level 3 to send the selfsame content, are they not double dipping, and creating a hostile environment for their competitors? I already paid for the bandwidth, it is none of Comcast's business how I choose to use it.

      Additionally, double "taxation" will eventually reach my Netflix account in the form of increased monthly fees. So I get to pay for both shipping and receiving. This conservative thinks you are wrong.

    10. Marauder, Texas says:

      Is telephone traffic regulated by the FCC? What about satellite Internet access? Does this Julius Genachowski intend to adopt (read: grab) control of things not covered in the FCC's charter? Does a spontaneous and aggressive reach for more control than authorized go unchallenged in this administration and this congress?

      Some accuse Obama of reticence or cowardice; I believe he knows exactly what he's doing.

    11. Barbara, OH says:

      I do not want the government to regulate the internet. Period!

    12. Bruce Long AZ says:

      No more regulation please. Government, stay out or our business and communications.

    13. Walt, California says:

      Stop the madness! Let's get Obama and his cczars out now. In less than two years America will be gone!

    14. Sheryl, Apache Junct says:

      Amen to Ken regarding David's comment, more regulation by the GOVERNMENT is not better, it is always better to have competition, that is what keeps our rates down, if I don't like the amount of money I pay to my provider, I can change to a different one. If the government is involved, they can stop us from viewing specific web sites. They already said that if we are reading a conservative article, there should be a pop-up to the liberal view of the issue we are reading. Well, I should be able to decide if I want to read the liberal view, they treat us as if we are 2 year olds. It is time to stop the government from more regualtion. If you want to live like that, go to China or some other communist or socialist country, they don't get free access to anything on the internet.

    15. Ron, Stratford CT says:

      But the name "net neutrality" sounds so benign…we are truly living in day when "good is called evil, and evil good."

    16. Bad Cyborg, Texas says:

      What avenues exist to prevent Genachowski from following through? Doubtless the proposal is unlawful but who's going to stop Genachowski and the FCC from going ahead and doing it? The Obama Justice Department? Congress? The FCC is unelected so they could not possibly care less what We The People think. In practical terms, what can folks like us do?

      Bad Cyborg

    17. MR says:

      The net is not broken and does not need fixing……….same as healthcare, same as drilling for oil, same as food bill…………….We do not need any more gov. or regulations. It is time for folks to wake up and see what is happening before it is to late. The frog(US) is in the pot of water that is slowly heating and will soon be boiled alive before he knows it.

    18. Colleen, Louisiana says:

      So, who died and made this beaurecrat Commander in Chief??

      I pray to God that when the new Congress convenes, they start investigating Obama's entire crowd of czars, advisors, and executive orders. Someone!!!! PLEASE STOP THIS BUNCH OF THUGS!!!

      They are destroying us!

    19. Ron Jager, Gibraltar says:

      Haven't we had enough "regulation by proclamation" to last us for awhile? Aren't there any Washington bureaucrats that DON'T want to burden us down with more trivial and otherwise useless regulations?

      Why can't we fire these people and replace them with folks that have some good old fashioned common sense? Or as the saying goes " Is common sense getting all to uncommon?"

    20. Douglas says:

      All we need is some fool Federal Government agency to control our Freedom of speech. They will screw things up and in their normal Government behavior "fix it with even more Government controls and regulations". They have regulated all of our other industry and forced them off shore…and this will be next! Once any Government has control of the media…they have control of the masses. This is phase two of a very scary rabbit hole!

    21. Lee. Oregon says:

      I do not live in communist China or Cuba. Senator Waxmen has to be taken down because of his bull Commie Ideas. We fought the commie for 50 years to have the,m tell us in our own congress we must bend to their will?? That i will not stand for, I will throw out my computer before I allow them to tell me what is their idea OF THE RIGHT SITE!!!! Yes I stand with the founders and they way they set this country up under GOD!!

    22. Return Privacy says:

      We all need to remember that ALL of our communications are supposed to be private, and not interfered with by the gov't. (several parts of the Constitution) It is completely UNLAWFUL for anyone to know what I do on the net, what pages I visit, and what emails I send. The mechanism the Constitution provides is that if, during an investigation of a possible crime, there is a desire to see any citizen's communications, the law agency MUST appear before a Judge, and the Judge will either grant them a warrant to see those communications, or he will deny it, based upon an "articulable suspicion" of the possibility of a crime. What that means is that the current actions by several gov't agencies, is Un-Constitutional and against the law. It is amazing how people are allowing this to continue. Why isn't the ACLU screaming and defending this flagrant violation of our rights? As far as net neutrality, the same thing applies, no blocking or preference can be made, or it is also illegal. The gov't can not regulate (interfere) what is a protected right under the Constitution.

    23. Paul Erwin says:

      Leave the internet alone,what happens after that when the door is opened,there's alot more important things to be looked at,why not concentrate on unemployment which a majority of people depend on the internet to find a job or even apply for a job since there is no paper work involved anywhere.The internet is a big business connection.

    24. Lawrence E. Oravetz says:

      The internet like cable and satellite radio is a subscriber fee paid service. Therefore the FCC has NO authority to regulate it, nor should have. The market will prevail if there are irregularities in data manipulation. Subscriptions would fall dramatically. The providers like their income stream so much that they would do anything to maintain it or grow it. So BIG Brother government nose poking should go elsewhere.

    25. Philip, michigan says:

      I think this is another major reason why the government needs to be cut back severely. agency';s who use letters to identify themselves (EPA FDA IRS FCC etc ) should be either eliminated or cut in a least half, then maybe the "rich" wouldn't have to pay more

    26. jason crowther, glen says:

      governmental regulation? of the 'net? KEEP YOUR MITS OFF OF THE INTERNET!! one of the best aspects of online communications is that–after the cost of the computer, modem, phone line and provider–it's free! and the feds, in particular the Democrats, can't seem to be able to even cope with the idea that the users have a forum to exchange ideas, formulate strategies and develop plans that might bring about the demise of the Democrat Party! the 'NET is a force! just as the gutenberg press led to print media, the INTERNET may evolve into a medium of exchange that could become something unforeseen today!

    27. john ny says:

      JUST REMEMBER FOLKS, OBAMA IS JUST A PUPPET LED BY GEORGE SOROS

    28. myfoxmystere says:

      BIG BOTHER IS WATCHING YOU! YES I SAID BIG BOTHER!

    29. Linda says:

      Wouldn't it be nice if we could all afford to boycott this stuff for a while and they all lost money. I don't really like boycotting, but it does work. Maybe even for a different day each week or a once a month boycott. We could let Fox news run all day and night and their ratings would go even higher and they would get even angerier, Also did you hear that GE, Obama's buddies bailed out MSNBC,, why bother.

      Linda

    30. Linda says:

      I have never in my entire adult life been so angry at an administration and so sick of all of them. Just tired of it all, I can't wait till this evil man is gone.

    31. Alexander, Kings Mou says:

      It's amazing. The FCC has the authority to regulate the airwaves ( radio, television, amateur radio, cb radio ) but fail to do so. You see commercials and show content that would never have been allowed 20 years ago on every channel of tv. And, have you listened to CB broadcasts lately ? I took my radio out of my car years ago because I didn't want my wife to hear such talk. Now, they want to regulate the internet, which is NOT in their charter ? Great. The only radio traffic that I'm not concerned about my wife hearing is Amateur radio, and that's because they are self- policing. They don't wait for the FCC to step in . If someone says something out of line, another amateur will quietly correct them. If that doesn't work, then the FCC will receive a complaint from the amateur radio operators, themselves.

    32. AfricanWarrior1 NC says:

      We must also stand prepared for Obama’s handler’s new tactic of circumventing the Constitutional government through a Dictatorial Bureaucratic Regime.

      As long as they can continue to convince Obama’s mass minions of brain dead Koolies to drink his propaganda ink, we will continue to see and hear their pathetic lies being used to attack our freedoms and liberties.

      Obama is but the head of the snake in the grass behind every bureaucratic power grab. He will not stop until his handlers have succeeded in the overthrow of our lawful Constitutional government, or until they no longer see him as an asset.

      Now that his handlers have replaced our Constitutional Republic, with the Unconstitutional evil stepping stone of a Democracy, they now move to establish a ruling Progressive Bureaucratic Regime.

      This is the reassuring reason that compelled Obama from day one, to think he could get away with snubbing his arrogant nose at the American people, the Congress, and the Courts. Because, he and his handler’s know his ultimate power is that which makes him the sole ruler over the bureaucracy. The shadow branch of our government, which has ruled over the American people for so long as to not have a living memory of when it has not.

      Only the mentally deprived cannot see what this Progressive Communist is doing. From the pulpit of the DHS, to the Treasury, to the DOJ, to the IRS, to the TSA, to the EPA, to the FDA, to the FCC, to the SSA, to every socialized program, and to the tens of millions of Marxist insurgents flooding across the Mexican border, Obama conducts his Dictatorial Rule over this Nation…His Nation. The Nation he was chosen b dception to Rule, by his Masters of the Oligarchy. All while their Progressive Propaganda Media, justifies every action, and inaction the Oligarchy through him choose to perpetrate.

      Once he has completed installing their minion of high court judges, America will exist as intended no more. For the greatest terrorist this nation shall ever know, will never leave the Whitehouse or his self-anointed throne, for as long as his handlers of the Oligarchy see fit.

    33. Ron, Vancouver says:

      I can picture more than 1.2 billion strings hanging from the sky, each operating the limb of an American, and each being operated by the FCC, George Soros, etc…go this way, now over here, ta ta now don't touch, here eat these!! Quite a picture isn't it?

    34. Gil Solnin, New York says:

      For those here who believe that there is currently no government regulation of the Internet then you are sadly mistaken. The government already regulates the Internet. The Communications Decency Act (Title V of the 1996 Telecommunications Act) was enacted in 1996.

      The law's purpose was to stop, or inhibit, the profusion of pornography, and other obscene material. The word used in the text is “indecent”, but it remains undefined throughout the bill, with no legislator willing to create a definition.

      While content online can be viewed as illegal, the law only allows the people posting to a website to be at legal risk and many times they are posting an “anonymous.” Section 230 of the CDA specifically exempts Internet Service Providers (web host companies and website owners who are not posting material themselves) from any liability for defamatory comments.

      In the case of the gay Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge, his roommate secretly videoed him in a gay love situation. He then posted it to a Internet chat room which was seen by everyone. The law can only prosecute the person who did the video and posted it. The Federal government under the CDA completely indemnifies the owner of the chat room website as well as the company that hosts that website from any legal consequences. As a result there is no filter and no need for what should be free market responsibility.

      If there was not CDA regulation, then the owner of the chat room and the web host company could viewed as complicit and therefore prosecuted as well as sued.

      Therefore, if there was no CDA then both Internet companies would not take the risk of posting that video and bringing legal risk to themselves.

      The left wing who control the Internet hide behind the false premise of “freedom of speech” when in fact that care less about every other freedom that they violate.

      Congress should repeal the CDA.

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    38. Tanya, Chicago says:

      I am completely disgusted at the level of governmental corruption that eminates from every decision made concerning the media and these governmentally sanctioned monopolistic terrors. Not only do these phone and cable companies sink millions of dollars into lobbying and buying Congressional votes, but they along with every other media conglomerate have ensured that the US is a facist nation…afterall corporations and government working together for mutual benefits is a key component in facism. The open source nature of the internet is key and Chairman Genachowski needs to get his head out of his a** and realize he is about to damn the future of the internet. Haven't we seen enough corruption and the death of competition with the reclassification of cable as an information service. I am so disgusted with these closed door shady policy making. I cannot believe that our own government is willing to sacrifice yet another public interest simply to satisfy its incessant greed. The tragedy lies in the fact that we have this technology that'd be cost effective to have a national system and free access for all with the purchase of a computer, mobile device etc. but we are forced into a system of little if any choice. Obama in 2008 adamantly supported the concept of net neutrality as did his FCC appointed leader but in the last year his support has wavered, why? Because this past January corporations gained the approval of unlimite spending/monetary support of politicians anonymously. Well the Obama administration needs money…so I think we know where this vote is headed. December 21st = death of the internet as we know it.

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