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Posts Tagged ‘Title II’
September 14th, 2015 at 2:58 pm
TechNotes: “ObamaNet Is Hurting Broadband”
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Throughout the “Net Neutrality” debate over whether the federal government should begin regulating Internet service under 1930s Depression-era laws intended for copper wire telephone service, we and others have warned that Obama Administration efforts to impose such regulation would dangerously stifle private investment and innovation in the telecommunications sector.

In his weekly “Information Age” column today, L. Gordon Crovitz highlights how quickly our somber prediction has proven true.  In “Obamanet Is Hurting Broadband,” Crovitz summarizes how “The predictable effect of more regulation has arrived:  Investment is plummeting”:

New data show the Obama Administration’s decision to regulate the Internet as a utility has already caused a steep drop in Internet Investment…  [I]n the first half of 2015, as the new regulations were being crafted in Washington, major ISPs reduced capital expenditure by an average of 12%, while the overall industry average dropped 8%.  Capital spending was down 29% at AT&T and Charter Communications, 10% at Cablevision, and 4% at Verizon. (Comcast increased capital spending, but on a new home-entertainment operating system, not broadband.)  Until now, spending had fallen year-to-year only twice in the history of broadband:  in 2001 after the dot-com bust, and in 2009 after the recession.”  [emphasis added]

Since the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Internet has thrived and played a central role in maintaining America’s status as the most prosperous, most entrepreneurial and most innovative nation in human history.  That didn’t happen by accident, nor was it due to coincidence.  Rather, it occurred precisely because the federal government during both the Clinton and Bush administrations refrained from suffocating it with destructive and politically-motivated overregulation.  But Obama apparently thought he had a better idea.  Unfortunately, we’re already witnessing the regrettable result.

Meanwhile, Gallup just released its annual survey of public approval of various sectors of American life.  Standing at or near the top once again are the computer industry, the Internet industry and the telephone industry, all with high net positives.  And at the bottom, once again, is the federal government, with an atrocious -29% net negative.

All of this suggests that we would likely be better off if the computer/Internet/telecom industries regulated the federal government, rather than vice-versa.

July 16th, 2015 at 10:49 am
Georgetown Study: FCC Title II Internet Regulation Will Reduce Internet Investment & Innovation Between 5% – 20%
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As we at CFIF have discussed on numerous occasions, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effort to reclassify Internet service under Depression-era Title II regulations meant for copper-wire telephone service is a toxic idea on legal, economic and technological grounds.

Now, a new study from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Center for Business and Public Policy provides additional intellectual heft and confirmation.  Entitled “Regulation and Investment:  A Note on Policy Evaluation Under Uncertainty, with an Application to FCC Title II Regulation of the Internet,” authors Kevin A. Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute and Robert J. Shapiro of the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy find that the FCC’s destructive maneuver will reduce Internet investment and innovation by an alarming 5% to 20%:

First, we showed that Title II regulation should be expected to increase costs, and therefore is the type of policy that should be expected to reduce investment.  Second, we reviewed the field-specific evidence that suggested that the scale of the negative effect would be quite large, from about 5.5 percent to as much as 20.8 percent.  Next, we documented that the ratio of investment to the capital stock would be expected to decline to roughly that extent if Title II regulation in the United States would be comparable to the regulatory framework of the OECD continental European countries in the first decade of the 21st century.  Next, we cited an analysis by a legal scholar that suggest that this analogy is reasonable.  Finally, we found that the negative effects on investment may well be significantly understated by these factors because the new regulation’s threshold effect will maximize the negative effects of uncertainty.”

The Internet has flourished to date, and become perhaps the most rapidly and profoundly transformative innovation in human history precisely because the federal government regulated with a light touch.  By reversing that regulatory stance that prevailed throughout both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, the Obama Administration FCC is placing continued innovation and investment at great risk.  This new study provides just the latest confirmation, and offers additional reason for Congress, the courts or even a future presidential administration to put a stop to it.

February 20th, 2015 at 10:36 am
Video: Stop the Government’s Internet Takeover
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In this week’s Freedom Minute video, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the plan by President Obama and the FCC to seize unprecedented regulatory control over the Internet by reclassifying Internet service as a public utility. 

January 5th, 2015 at 10:17 am
2015: New GOP Congress Pledges to Fight Obama FCC Internet Regulation
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The bad news as 2015 begins is that the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears set to vote next month to reclassify broadband service as some sort of public utility.  You read that correctly.  After twice having its so-called “Net Neutrality” efforts rejected by federal courts, Obama has called on the FCC to double down on that destructive campaign, hoping to subject one of the few sectors of our economy that has continued to thrive in recent years to more regulation.

The good news, however, is that the incoming Republican Congress appears committed to fight that effort:

Newly fortified Republicans in Congress are considering a number of ways to stymie the Obama Administration’s planned regulations on broadband Internet providers in 2015, making Capitol Hill a new front in the fight over ‘net neutrality.’  Concern about the rules is playing into Republican efforts to rein in what they say is regulatory overreach by the Federal Communications Commission.”

Senator John Thune (R – South Dakota), the new Senate Commerce Committee chairman, struck the right chord in announcing, “The regulatory tools at the FCC’s disposal are outdated, and its previous efforts to create rules to regulate the Internet were struck down by the courts.  It’s hard to imagine that its new attempt will escape legal challenges and avoid the kind of regulatory uncertainty that harms Internet innovation and investment.”  Meanwhile, opposition to Obama’s scheme continues on the House side, with one House Energy and Commerce Committee staffer saying that “all options are on the table.”  That includes legislation to block reclassification as a public utility, cutting FCC budgetary funding and invoking the seldom-used Congressional Review Act to void federal administrative regulations of significant impact.

Word must obviously be met with substantive deed, but it’s nice to at least see 2015 begin with a commitment from both houses of the incoming GOP Congress to fight this ill-advised, illegal and stubborn effort from Obama’s FCC.

November 21st, 2014 at 10:20 am
Video – Title II: Obama Wants to Regulate the Internet
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses Barack Obama’s misguided push to have the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like a public utility under telephone and railroad laws drafted in the 1930s – long before the Internet (or computers, for that matter) was even invented.

 

October 27th, 2014 at 10:22 am
Title II Reclassification: Not Just Unwise, But Also Illegal
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Those of us who oppose the Obama Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) effort to bridle the Internet  with so-called “net neutrality” regulation have explained at length why reclassifying the Internet as some sort of 1930s-style public utility under Title II is a dangerous idea.

Perhaps we we haven’t devoted appropriate time, however, to explaining why it’s almost certainly illegal.

As a broader policy matter, the vague and muddled calls from the extremist left to reclassify broadband typically don’t extend beyond an emotional demand for federal bureaucrats at the FCC to “do something.”  Or, as we often put it, they seek to impose a “fix” for an Internet that isn’t at all “broken.”  Accordingly, they go about offering substantive policy proposals as if lunching at a salad bar stocked with bad ingredients.  They pick and choose bad items, assembling what they consider a perfect combination.

But what they instead create is a Frankenstein-like monstrosity.

And in terms of legality more specifically, the FCC would be treading onto extremely unstable ground if it opts to follow the demands of far-left activists by rushing headlong into this dubious Title II reclassification proposal.  The fact of the matter is that the FCC has long contended that the Internet is a Title I service.  Therefore, in order to reclassify, the law requires it to meet a higher burden of proof as to why it got the initial classification wrong.  Hysterical activism from the far left that has tended to characterize this debate won’t suffice, whether as a matter of law or a matter of logic.  The FCC has already twice lost this legal battle in court (first in 2010, and again in 2014).  Rather than stubbornly tempt a third judicial rebuke of its effort to impose “net neutrality,” it would be better to learn its lesson as it proceeds with its rulemaking effort.

And that’s only with regard to traditional wired networks.  When it comes to wireless Internet (like the 4G/LTE smartphone technology), the law actually expressly prohibits the FCC from imposing Title II-type rules.  That clarity may not discourage the net-roots fringe from demanding reclassification, but it most certainly should stop the FCC from exceeding its legal mandate and once again blatantly flouting both the letter and spirit of applicable law.

Despite six years of effort to the contrary from the Obama Administration, we remain a nation of laws, not men.  That timeless principle does not yield to extremists’ pursuit of the “net neutrality” unicorn.

To date, and through previous administrations of both parties over the past two decades, the FCC has avoided attempting to classify Internet service under Title II for good reason:  it is bad policy and bad law.  Everyone except those clinging to an ideologically extreme position on the matter have recognized that reality.  We therefore cannot allow such Title II extremists to suddenly divert us from the “light touch” regulatory course that has made the Internet one of the most beneficial and revolutionary innovations in human history.  There’s too much to lose.

June 13th, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Podcast: The Gov’t Should Keep Its Regulatory Hands Off the Internet
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Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, discusses net neutrality and the misguided push to have the federal government regulate the Internet.

Listen to the interview here.

May 30th, 2014 at 9:37 am
Take Action to Stop Net Regulation

President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), bowing to the demands of liberal special interests, is actually considering a scheme to regulate the Internet like a public utility. And if they get their way, this egregious government overreach into the broadband economy will almost certainly kill job creation, harm consumers and bring a significant amount of investment and innovation to a screeching halt.

Simply put, the federal government micromanaging the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act is a dangerous scheme, one that Congress must halt and the FCC must abandon. That’s why the Center for Individual Freedom this week activated StopNetRegulation.org, a project dedicated to ensuring the Internet remains free from heavy-handed government regulations and stopping this latest power grab by the Obama administration.

Join the fight by visiting StopNetRegulation.org.  While there, use the web form to quickly and easily contact your Members of Congress and the FCC.

August 11th, 2010 at 10:58 am
More Than 150 Organizations, State Legislators and Bloggers Urge FCC to Abandon Plans to Regulate the Internet

In letters sent today to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) joined with more than 150 other organizations, state legislators and bloggers in urging the FCC to abandon its plans to regulate the Internet.

The letters were organized by Americans for Tax Reform.  One of the letters reads in part:

Despite universal acknowledgement that Americans enjoy a free, open, and vibrant Internet, the FCC is relentlessly pursuing a massive regulatory regime that would stifle broadband expansion, create congestion, slow Internet speeds, jeopardize job retention and growth, and lead to higher prices for consumers.

We oppose the FCC’s effort to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which was written during the depression era to regulate telephone monopolies – 60 years before the Internet was ever conceived. … This regulatory ‘reclassification’ would effectively turn innovative private Internet services into a public utility.

“The already free and open Internet has sparked unprecedented growth and innovation over the last decade precisely because it hasn’t been burdened with unnecessary regulation and taxation,” said CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella.  “The reckless desires of three unelected FCC commissioners and a few radical fringe groups on the left that wish to turn the Internet into a government-controlled public utility now threaten to grind those wheels of Internet growth and innovation to a halt.

“The Courts have spoken.  A rare bipartisan majority in Congress opposes the FCC’s plans.  And, the American people reject this unnecessary and job-killing regulatory regime sought by the FCC,” Mazzella continued.  “It’s past time for the FCC to listen and abandon its plans for a government takeover the Internet.”

To read the letters send to the FCC, click here and here.

The Hill’s popular Hillicon Valley blog mentions the letters here.

June 17th, 2010 at 3:37 pm
CFIF Criticizes FCC Ploy to Commandeer Internet Sector
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 along purely partisan lines today to commence federal government micro-regulation of Internet service.  In response, Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, issued the following statement

This spring, a unanimous D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC doesn’t possess authority to impose so-called ‘Net Neutrality’ over the Internet.  In a brazen ploy to circumvent the Court’s ruling, Chairman Genachowski and the FCC today began the process of classifying the Internet as a public utility under laws drafted for Depression-era landline telephones.  Their ultimate goal is to overregulate one of the few bright spots of the American economy. 

“The Internet sector has prospered over the past two decades precisely because the federal government has refrained from micromanaging it.  That ‘hands off’ policy spans both the Clinton and Bush administrations, during which time the Internet has become the most dynamic, innovative and promising sector of our economy and lives.

“That is why almost 250 members of Congress from both parties wrote the FCC admonishing it to refrain from unnecessary overregulation.  That’s why a unanimous D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC doesn’t possess authority to impose so-called ‘Net Neutrality’ over the Internet.  And, that’s why the American public opposes ‘Net Neutrality’ by a two-to-one margin. 

“Unfortunately, all that means nothing to Chairman Genachowski and those scheming to impose counterproductive and unnecessary regulations on the Internet by any means necessary. 

“The FCC’s destructive action will only create regulatory uncertainty, which will discourage private investment, Internet innovation, continued broadband expansion and job growth. 

“The Center for Individual Freedom now calls on all Americans to support H.R. 3924, sponsored Representative Marsha Blackburn (R–TN), which will ensure that Congress and the American people determine this matter, not unelected bureaucrats at the FCC.”

May 25th, 2010 at 11:14 am
Congress to FCC: Abandon Plans to Take Over the Internet

In an effort to circumvent a unanimous federal appeals court ruling, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced earlier this month that it will pursue a “third way” to obtain regulatory control over the Internet.  Specifically, lacking the straightforward authority to impose burdensome and unnecessary regulations on the World Wide Web, the FCC is now seeking “to shoehorn Internet service into regulations drafted in the 1930s for old-fashioned landline telephones” in an effort to dramatically expand its regulatory reach.

CFIF and others have written extensively about how such an unprecedented power grab threatens to suffocate private broadband investment, jobs and Internet innovation.  And, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress is now adding its voice of opposition, too.

In a letter sent yesterday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, 74 Congressional Democrats expressed “serious concerns” about the FCC’s actions.  “The significant regulatory impact of reclassifying broadband service is not something that should be taken lightly and should not be done without additional direction from Congress,” the letter reads.  “We urge you not to move forward with a proposal that undermines critically important investment in broadband and the jobs that come with it.”

Also released yesterday was a similar letter to the FCC Chairman signed by 37 Senate Republicans.  The Senators wrote:

We are deeply disappointed by your recent announcement that you intend to reclassify broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.  This move will deter further private sector investment in broadband networks, will negatively impact innovation, and ultimately harm consumers.  We strongly encourage you to abandon this drastic action, and to continue the successful policy of leaving the Internet free from common carrier regulations.”

The people have spoken.  The courts have spoken.  And now, a bipartisan and sizable group of elected officials in Congress have spoken.  Will Obama’s FCC finally listen?

May 6th, 2010 at 8:11 am
REPORTS: Obama’s FCC Will Revert to New Deal-Era Laws to Impose “Net Neutrality”
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Just last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held unanimously that Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t possess authority to nationalize the Internet via so-called “Net Neutrality.” And in the court of public opinion, the American electorate opposes this destructive scheme to dictate Internet traffic flow by a 2-to-1 margin.

So how is the hyper-politicized FCC choosing to respond?  By reverting to decades-old New Deal-era laws to shoehorn the Internet into statutes drafted for 1930s landline telephones. Since the advent of the Internet era in 1996, Congress, the courts and the FCC have rightfully designated the Internet an “information service,” and therefore subject to different rules than archaic early telephone lines.

But according to news reports, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will announce today his reckless “damn the torpedoes” approach.  Just as Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid reverted to every available scheme to impose ObamaCare on an unwilling public, the FCC will apparently adopt the same approach to federalize Internet service, one of the few sectors that has maintained its dynamism during the economic downturn.  With its humiliating Court of Appeals defeat to one side and looming November elections on the other, yet another Obama Administration arm thus prefers hyperpartisanship over compromise and reasonability.

As always, American consumers and our economy will pay the price for this component of the Obama Agenda, since it will stifle the private investment and broadband buildout necessary to keep pace with ever-increasing Internet use.  Fortunately, this scheme will ultimately meet the same result handed down by the Court of Appeals last month, but only after years of costly litigation, regulatory limbo and acrimony.

Justice will prevail and we will win this battle, but it’s going to take another good fight.  The stakes are too high to relent.