Bridge Span 15-1: Comments Filed With FCC Regarding the Massive Regulatory Shift to Regulate the Internet

Progressives are cheering today as the rest of us receive yet another indication that the size of government continues to grow substantially.  Earlier today the FCC voted to replace the innovation and technological advance of the internet with the heavy hand of government. To be fair, not all progressives agree with what was done by the FCC or how it was done. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) said, “There is nothing ‘progressive’ about the FCC’s backsliding to common carrier rules dating back to the 1930s. Also troubling is its lack of transparency — the 317-page rule it approved has not yet been made public. Decisions this important to U.S. jobs, growth, and competitiveness ought to be made by Congress, following open democratic deliberation and debate.”

Because of the intense media reporting that in fact the FCC did not follow an open, democratic, and legal procedure, Madery Bridge filed comments with the FCC, writing in part, “Recent reports indicate that the Commission is poised to reverse more than 15 years’ worth of precedent holding that broadband Internet access is an integrated “information service” – and that it will do so based not on the record compiled during an open rulemaking process satisfying the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), but rather on the results of a secret process conducted by senior White House staff hidden from scrutiny or dissent, and an effort by those staff to force the Commission to change course. This approach would be flatly unlawful. Moreover, even absent this procedural irregularity, the Commission may not use its interpretive role to effectuate sweeping policy changes of the sort that would result from broadband reclassification. ”

In addition, there are also very real questions as to whether the FCC even has the legal authority to use its interpretive authority to effectuate a massive shift in the regulatory framework as it has now voted to do.  These serious questions were ignored and the predetermined outcome went forward today without a hitch.

But it is the people who the FCC and the White House are choosing to ignore. According to a recent survey by PPI 73 percent of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC’s proposal to regulate the Internet with 79 percent favoring public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the FCC’s proposal to regulate the Internet before the FCC votes on it.  For that matter only a mere one in three believes that regulating the Internet like telephone service will be helpful in the first place. Not only did Chairman Wheeler decide to keep the details secret he moved the FCC to regulate the internet.  The backroom secret deal making is only one early step on the partisan political path that the public already rejects.  A recent Rasmussen Reports poll revealed that 68 percent of those surveyed were concerned that FCC regulatory control over the internet is merely the entry point for content and politically motivated control online.

We deserve better from our leaders and those who regulate us. We should all hope that one day soon the FCC will turn away from politics and secret deals and turn back to light touch regulatory actions to preserve an open Internet for all of us, not just the political class.

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