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.
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.
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.