The FCC's New Net Minder

The FCC's New Net Minder

December 15, 2017

The government took over health care, and we all know how that turned out. Under Barack Obama, it tried to get its hands on the internet too -- a power grab that spooked people in every corner of cyberspace. Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturned Obama’s decision to swoop in and control one of the few markets still free of government intervention.

Although there are strong feelings on both sides of the debate, one thing Americans should all agree on is that the decision to involve the government in one of the most productive areas of our economy should come from Congress -- not the five political appointees of the FCC. Fortunately, Commissioner Ajit Pai agrees, voting yesterday to “liberate Internet service providers” as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called it, from the overbearing regulations of the Obama years.

“By effectively deeming the internet a utility, former [FCC] chairman Tom Wheeler turned the FCC into a political gatekeeper. The rules prohibited broadband providers from blocking, throttling, and favoring content… Bans on throttling content may poll well,” the Wall Street Journal warns, “but the regulations have created uncertainty about what the FCC would or wouldn’t allow. This has throttled investment.”

“…Mr. Pai’s net-neutrality rollback will also support growth in content…consumers will benefit from the slow breakdown of the cable monopoly as they customize ‘bundles’ like Hulu or a Disney stream that may cost less… [As for the crackdown in free speech,] Google has vigorously promoted net neutrality in theory but less in practice,” the Journal goes on. “While Google says it remains ‘committed to the net neutrality policies,’ the search engine uses opaque algorithms to prioritize and discriminate against content, sometimes in ways that undercut competitors.”

The real neutrality comes from cutting the government out of the process, which Pai has done. And conservatives couldn’t be happier. “Today’s vote by the FCC to reject the… government takeover of the internet is a big win for consumers and for internet freedom,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) cheered. “America is the global leader in the digital economy because we have allowed entrepreneurs to compete against each other – rather than against regulators. It’s ultimate the consumers who suffer when the federal government swoops in with heavy regulations… The best way to continue the success of the internet is by keeping the government from suffocating it through radical regulations.”

As several experts have pointed out, the reason the web grew so quickly is because the government wasn’t involved. Now, thanks to Pai, we can return to the days when the web isn’t under the thumb of unelected bureaucrats.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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