NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 7, 2010

From the days when broadcast ruled the mass communications roost, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has operated under the assumption the airwaves are owned by the public.  That served the public interest well when it came to fighting indecency, but what do you do when people communicate over "airwaves" with no air -- the phone lines, cables and fiber-optic networks that have superseded radio and TV signals, asks Investor's Business Daily (IBD)? 

That's the question over the power grab the federal government has been attempting under the misleading slogan "net neutrality."  Washington insists it must stop Internet service providers (ISPs) from "discriminating" against certain content or applications, in effect meddling in the management of their businesses, in the name of "access for all." 

  • But as Republican FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker noted last year, there's never been any real threat to Internet access.
  • Nor, as fellow GOP-appointed commissioner Robert McDowell has held, is there any authority granted to the FCC by Congress to regulate ISPs' management. 

Turns out, they were right, says IBD: 

  • On Tuesday, a Washington, D.C., Circuit Court unanimously squashed the Obama administration's attempts to control the Internet.
  • Now, the signs are the FCC will try to find another way to do the job -- maybe by saying broadband carriers are the same as land-line phone companies.  

Government would love to get its hands on cyberspace.  And it wants eventually to tax it, of course, says IBD.  

Source: Editorial, "Net Gains," Investor's Business Daily, April 7, 2010. 

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