Regulatory Reform

ALEC to Review and Reply to FCC’s Latest Internet Regulation Plan

The Federal Communications Commission’s website crashed on July 15. The crash was occasioned by public comments on the FCC’s proposal to give itself broad new regulatory controls over aspects of the Internet.

It was an unintentionally hilarious moment. A question readily presented: Do we really want to give extensive powers over broadband Internet services to a federal agency that can’t keep its own Internet website up and running?

According to ALEC’s Broadband Regulation Resolution, the answer to that question is clearly “no.” The Resolution states, in part:

ALEC urges that the FCC, Congress and state regulatory and legislative bodies refocus their efforts on specific and limited initiatives targeted at ensuring that broadband service is made universally available and affordable to consumers, rejecting overly prescriptive regulations that would harm innovation, investment, and job growth

This is the FCC’s third attempt to impose so-called net neutrality regulations on broadband Internet access services. Both of the FCC’s first two attempts resulted in rebukes by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Now the FCC is back at it. Only this time, the FCC is proposing to subject broadband Internet services to an even more restrictive and onerous slate of regulatory controls. More specifically, the FCC has floated the idea of reclassifying broadband Internet services from a lightly-regulated Title I service to a tightly-regulated Title II service. Title II is a regulatory apparatus geared toward 20th-century telephone phone service. Many Title II statutory provisions are lifted directly from the Communications Act of 1934. And many of the 1934 Act’s provisions are based on 19th Century law regulating railroads.

In early 2010, ALEC legislative members went on record opposing the FCC’s proposed Internet regulations. For starters, the FCC never even showed there was an existing market failure problem that its proposed regulations were trying to address. Similarly, ALEC weighed in at the FCC against reclassifying broadband Internet services under Title II when the FCC first floated the idea later that same year. Saddling high-tech information networks with outdated regulatory controls threatens the forces of innovation and entrepreneurial investment that have propelled the economic and social activity we see on the Internet today. Free markets offer the best environment for promoting broadband Internet innovation and investment that will benefit consumers.

At its upcoming Annual Meeting, ALEC’s Communications & Technology Task Force will be reviewing ALEC’s Broadband Regulation Resolution. Following that review process, expect ALEC to weigh in at the FCC with its own public reply to comments by mid-September. Whether public reply comments to the FCC’s Internet website will result in an Obamacare exchange-style crash-a-thon remains to be seen.


In Depth: Regulatory Reform

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that “the sum of good government” was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry.” Sadly, governments – both federal and state – have ignored this axiom and…

+ Regulatory Reform In Depth