We need clarity about our antitrust standards as they apply to the Internet, safeguards for personal data, and reverse auctions to bring better broadband to rural America. None of that is terribly sexy, but it’s all important.
While the number of legitimate comments filed with the FCC – probably closer to 500,000 than to the 800,000 claimed by CIS – indicates a high level of public engagement in the issue, it would be a mistake to conclude that net neutrality will be a significant campaign issue.
In reality, the Markey amicus doesn’t describe the Internet that we use today. It addresses an entirely different system that didn’t exist in the past either. ISP service is combination of transmission and information processing that serves the needs of the information society. And it appears to be serving those needs pretty darned well.
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.