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.
Trump Administration gadfly American Oversight is circulating a collection of 1,300 pages of email it obtained from the FCC through a FOIA request. The emails, related to the meltdowns experienced by the FCC’s comment system following HBO personality John Oliver’s comedy bits on net neutrality in 2014 and 2018, fail to disclose any new information.
The peril of net neutrality is stagnation. If we force the Internet back to the traditional straight jackets, this fully competitive future may never arrive. I’m not willing to take that risk when lawmakers are so blind to the reality of the Internet that they can float this “one word at a time” nonsense with a straight face.
The trouble with 477 is that providers can only report on the areas they cover, while the real questions are about the areas they don’t. It may be that the best way to get the data we need is through the Census. It deserves some investigation even though Pallone and Doyle didn’t raise the question.
The Internet is not simply a sandbox for network research any more, it has become the primary means of electronic communication around the world. Before long, it will be the only such means and we will all be better for it. Please allow firms that depend on networking to invest efficiently so as to maximize their incentives to innovate.