Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?

Friday, December 24, 2010


The central legal question of the FCC’s new net neutrality rules is whether or not the Commission even has the authority to regulate the internet, which is classified as an information service. Net neutrality advocates wanted the web to be reclassified as a telecommunication service before any new rules were made so the FCC would have more power to regulate it. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps voted for the new regulation, but says he has reservations about its legal foundation.

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Comments [4]

Curtis J Neeley Jr from Fayetteville, AR; USA
I have sued the FCC for failing to regulate wire communications disguised as the Internet. The Internet is just the street slang for UnReuLated (URL) wire communications even if the last apparatus on either end of the wires are smartphones.

Jun. 27 2012 01:14 PM
Damon Frost from Rhode Island

Copps examples of public-private partnerships (highways, canals, etc.) are disingenuous. These things might never have been built without the government's help, because of their enormous initial costs and difficult payback models for a private entity. This is somewhat true of the internet itself, having been developed largely by a consortium of DOD, university, and private sector contributions if I understand the development story correctly. However, what the FCC is now trying to regulate is something that is already built and working in private hands. The market could indeed sort this out itself fairly easily. There is no reason for these regs, which inevitably just muck things up despite the best intentions.

Dec. 30 2010 09:18 AM
John Rettberg from Wash DC

The establishment of government regulation was to ensure offensive language, profanity and such is kept off the public airways not to dictate programming. In a free market the public gets to determine what they want to listen to not the government. The regulation of content, flies in the face of freedom of speech and freedom to hear. When the government defines hate speech as anyone who disagrees with the government, then we no longer live in a free society.

Dec. 29 2010 02:37 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

Government regulation held up development of FM radio for years. It held up development of cable television, too, long after cable had been technically feasible. What happens is that the government (as hinted by Copps) has to get together with the big players to write its rules and regs. Naturally, players the world has not yet heard of (who had heard of Google 10 years ago? Facebook five years ago?) are disadvantaged by such rules, which lean heavily on an understanding of technology that exists at the moment.

It is heartbreakingly depressing to hear 'progressives' endorse the proven reactionary outcomes of 'regulation'. If you want a better Internet, keep the dead hand of politics off it. On the other hand, it is possible that 'control' is the object of this political campaign - not quality, not innovation. 'Progressives' are not exactly famous for being able to declare that some things should be left to consumers and producers. Where would that leave 'progressives', whose whole reason for being is to police other people?

Dec. 28 2010 12:46 PM

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