Friday, April 09, 2010

Robert M. McDowell - Hands off the Internet

Robert M. McDowell - Hands off the Internet
Last fall, over dissenting votes from Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker and me, the FCC proposed rules to regulate high-speed Internet. Before embarking on any regulatory journey, it is critical for the government to ask and answer: What exactly is broken that only the government can fix?

Curiously, the commission proposed rules even though studies by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence of market failure. And when the Justice and Commerce departments filed comments with the FCC in January, neither provided evidence of concentrations and abuses of market power in the broadband arena. To the contrary, the Justice Department sounded optimistic about the competitiveness of the broadband market. It even warned against imposing new regulations "to avoid stifling the infrastructure investments needed to expand broadband access."

Nonetheless, the FCC may still consider imposing early-20th-century vintage "common carrier" regulations on 21st-century broadband technologies. One result of the new rules could be to make it harder for the operators of broadband "pipes" to build "smart" networks, which offer connectivity and other services or products.

The display of ignorance in the comments section after this article is overwhelming. Our biggest problem is that we already have a system (of government) that is overly complex. Individual citizens don't have the time (or willpower) to figure it all out so they rely on media talking points (I include myself in this on some topics at least).

Fundamentally though, do any of us want a more complex tax code? Hundreds of pounds of new federal laws and regulations every year? New legislation so voluminous that even member of congress can't find the time to read them? More forms to fill out and fees to pay just to start a small business? Laws so obscure that we are constantly violating them without knowing it?

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