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The Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Inquiry today to “reclassify” the internet, which would increase the agency's regulatory control. The FCC has carefully crafted its words to make this change seem minute, but in fact, this “reclassification” has enormous potential to harm consumers and could adversely affect broadband deployment. Far from being a slight change, this reclassification would, for the first time, allow the FCC to regulate the internet, threatening innovation in this dynamic sector of the economy.
In the FCC’s mission statement, they declare that they are directly accountable to Congress, yet, today’s announcement suggests otherwise. “No congressional legislation has granted the FCC the authority to begin regulating the internet,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. “In fact, 282 members of Congress from both parties have asked the FCC not to proceed with this reclassification without Congressional authority.”
The internet is one of the most impressive inventions of our era, and it continues to progress and improve at rapid rates. This innovation has occurred largely because the internet has avoided the heavy hand of regulation. “The FCC’s rush to regulate the internet is baffling,” said Kibbe. “Innovation and competition are the trademark of this vibrant sector of the economy. Wireless providers have injected new competition into the broadband market and new technologies only make the market more competitive. Expanding markets with and improving quality are hardly traits of a market in need of regulation.”
The FCC’s new policy deserves to be struck down on the sole basis that the agency lacks the authority for such regulation. But, in addition to unlawful, it is ineffective and detrimental to the free market. Congress should act quickly to strike back against the FCC’s aggressive attempt to seize power over such an important sector of the economy.