Enjoying the benefits of ICT and the Information Age requires us to adopt new models of regulation that are fit for the task. For this to happen, we’ll need to stop demonizing every new invention for the sake of eyeballs, audience, and ad revenues.
The Obama FCC admitted that it could not find the sweet spot. In the 2015 Open Internet Order, former Chairman Wheeler simply claimed regulatory authority to sanction firms for behaviors he could not anticipate. Rather than creating bright line rules, Wheeler raised his voice and issued threats. Angry threats have subsequently become the preferred way to regulate not only the Internet but its regulators as well. This is not productive, but it’s the road chosen by many.
There is ample evidence that the FCC gave proper consideration to the useful and relevant legal, economic, and technical comments offered in the proceeding. The fact that John Oliver’s audience is angry isn’t relevant, and it’s not even news.
Finding sponsors to carry the bill may be troublesome before the mid-term, but a legitimate work product will be useful whenever Congress is of a mind to consider legislating. We may actually be closer to legitimate, regular Congressional action on Internet regulation than we’ve been since the summer of 2010.
These tools enable one activist to look to the Internet like a whole crowd. It also enables activists to look like they vote in districts where they don’t live and to make phone calls to Congress that look like they come from constituents when they don’t. This is a corruption of our democracy.
California simply has some motivated politicians seeking to capitalize on the state’s animus toward the FCC, Washington, the Red States, and the Trump Administration with a symbolic act of rebellion. Net neutrality is a California export, so in some sense it’s fitting for it to come home.
Changing ISPs from their historic status to Title II is a move the FCC can’t make without Congressional authorization. This is especially true given the 1996 Telecommunications Act clearly declares ISPs to be information services. There is no clue in the ’96 Act that substituting dial-up for broadband changes the nature of ISP service.