WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reacted with dismay today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its 400-page “Open Internet Order” that reclassifies the Internet as a public utility. As is typically the case with new, draconian government regulations, the devil is in the details, and they are even worse than initially feared.
The FCC decision on February 26, 2015 to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act was issued two months after a directive to do so by President Obama on November 10, 2014. Title II was written to regulate the monopoly telephone industry as a common carrier, similar to railroads of the late 1880’s, using interconnection rate schemes. The most recent amendment to the 1934 Act was the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which resolved to keep the Internet a “vibrant and competitive free market … unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”
An initial review of the 400-page order confirms CAGW’s previously-held judgment that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. The Order does not cite a specific harm and rests instead upon perceived future harms if the Internet is not walled in by the FCC.
The Order relies heavily on regulatory “forbearance,” which means that parts of Title II that could apply to the Internet have been suspended, for now, by the FCC. However, nothing prevents the FCC from eventually using the full force of Title II. As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said in his dissent, the FCC will now have “the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works. It’s an overreach that will let a Washington bureaucracy, and not the American people, decide the future of the online world.” And instead of letting Congress complete its efforts to modernize communications law, the FCC has decided to legislate through regulation.
“Again and again, the Obama administration has shown an utter disregard for the Constitution, the separation of powers, federalism, and the will of the people,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “This FCC is wasting time and money by issuing an Order that will be challenged and likely overturned as were the agency’s last two net neutrality efforts. But at least President Obama never promised that if you liked your Internet you could keep it. If he had, it would have been a bigger falsehood than telling people they could keep their doctor under Obamacare.”
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.