Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FCC: Taking title to the internet

From The American Spectator:
In the fight over the Obama Administration and Federal Communications Commission's attempts to regulate the Internet via a policy known as "net neutrality," a court case involving a cable company and an online company that enables Internet content sharing is forcing the Obama Administration to look for new ways to gain control of Internet networks.

Last month a federal court raised doubts about whether the FCC had jurisdiction over Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as the company in question, Comcast, and AT&T and Verizon, when the FCC made a 2008 ruling that Comcast had illegally blocked the Internet content-sharing application BitTorrent. The court's questioning of the FCC authority now has many -- including senior FCC staff -- believing that the federal court will side with Comcast and rule that the agency has only "ancillary jurisdiction" over broadband services.

But already, the FCC is strategizing on how it can gain regulatory control of the Internet and the broadband networks that connect to it, if the courts rule against them. According to FCC sources, the agency is considering "reclassifying" broadband Internet services under rules that were once used for rotary phone service. To do this, the FCC would categorize broadband networks under Title II, or common carriage rules. Broadband networks have thus far been regulated under Title I, a section for "enhanced communications services."

"You have one set of rules, Title II, that were used for rotary phones, before there was a lot of competition in the communications space, like wireless and the like, and then you have Title I, which has rules more in line with the high-tech world," says an attorney who until recently worked at the FCC. "Common sense says, keep broadband and the Internet under rules for the modern world, not the rules that applied to a technology that was obsolete two decades ago. This just shows how desperate these people are to regulate the networks."
So, essentially, if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rules that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate ISP's, then the FCC will just unilaterally reclassify internet service as Type II rotary phone service so it can regulate them?  What happened to the balance of powers and the three branches of government?  Isn't the executive branch supposed to execute the law?

Taken as a whole, the egregious overreaching of the unaccountable regulatory agencies of the Obama administration is frightening.  The Congress can't pass cap and trade legislation, so the Environmental Protection Agency will circumvent the legislative process by declaring that carbon dioxide is a toxic substance, and can therefore be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  And don't forget, the Food and Drug Administration has declared that raw oysters are also toxic, so no more oysters on the half shell, unless they have been "pasteurized."  And as Mark Steyn observed in a recent column, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has forced many resorts to shutdown their hazardous hot tubs:
In Canada, Karen Selick told readers of The Ottawa Citizen about her winter vacation in Arizona last month: "The resort suite I rented via the Internet promised a private patio with hot tub," she wrote. "Upon arrival, I found the door to my patio bolted shut. 'Entry prohibited by federal law,' read the sign. Hotel management explained that the drains in all the resort's hot tubs had recently been found not to comply with new safety regulations. Compliance costs would be astronomical. Dozens of hot tubs would instead be cemented over permanently." In the meantime, her suite had an attractive view of the federally-prohibited patio.
I often ponder what our Founding Fathers would think of this madness.

No comments:

Post a Comment