A Shakespearean tragedy took place in Washington, D.C. today. A young, vibrant and attractive protagonist known as The Internet was snuffed out by Tom “The Annihilator” Wheeler. The self-proclaimed “King of all Communications” and his loyalists conspired to move the Internet back into the dark ages of communications, subjecting it to regulations that originally stemmed from the 1880s for the railroad industry. They acted in this notorious manner because President Obama ordered them to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
“The President speaks, the FCC acts, taxpayers lose”
From this day forward (subject to legal appeals and potential action by Congress that could make this feudal action futile), the Internet will be a shell of its former self, a brainless Zombie that will have no initiative, motivation, or innovation. Everything that the Internet does will be controlled by King Wheeler and his cronies.
The 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet like a “common carrier” public utility ushers in a brave new world that will lead to as much as $11 billion in increased taxes and fees on Internet access and far less innovation and investment for broadband deployment.
The FCC vote also approved two petitions from local government entities asking that the agency to intervene and vitiate state laws in two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, which imposed restrictions on municipal taxpayer-funded broadband projects. Such projects have been rife with waste and mismanagement, with dark fiber often being overbuilt along existing private sector infrastructure. Besides being of questionable legality, the vote to vitiate states’ jurisdiction over their local municipalities creates a dangerous precedent.
The meeting at the FCC was a dog and pony show punctuated with rhetorical atmospherics. Prior to the vote on municipal broadband, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn melodramatically alleged that millions of Americans were living in “digital darkness,” and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel described the vote as a sort of quaint “broadband barn raising.” Chairman Wheeler repeatedly said that state-generated “bureaucratic red tape” was stifling competition, even while imposing federal bureaucratic red tape in the very next breath when voting to regulate the Internet like a utility.
“The President speaks, the FCC acts, taxpayers lose,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Once again, the Obama administration has shown an utter disregard for the Constitution, the separation of powers, federalism, and the will of the people. The agency created a problem that doesn’t exist, then solved it with an unprecedented application of antiquated laws, intrusive regulations, and increased spending.”
“The FCC vote is part of a grand scheme by the Administration to turn broadband into a heavily regulated public utility and Internet access into the newest federal entitlement program,” stated CAGW Technology and Telecommunications Policy Director Deborah Collier. “The pre-emption of state law leads the federal government down a very slippery path that could encourage other independent agencies to follow suit. The FCC’s actions must be reversed and the agency’s entire purpose must be reexamined.”
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.