Democracy & Technology Blog “Time for Congress”


Tom Tauke, a top Verizon executive:

In my view, the current statute is badly out of date. Now is the time to focus on updating the law affecting the Internet. To fulfill broadband’s potential it’s time for Congress to take a fresh look at our nation’s communications policy framework.

Tauke’s top recommendations include:

  • A behavioral advertising policy that requires an easy to use process for affirmative consent from a user before that user can be tracked on-line should apply to all players engaged in behavioral advertising, regardless of where they sit in the space and what technology is used.
  • Competitive subsidies that are technologically neutral and targeted solely for the benefit of consumers, not corporate intermediaries, would be one alternative to ensuring full national broadband deployment.
  • Harm to consumers and competition should not be permitted, from any source. So the level-playing field needs to be big enough to include all of the players.

My own reaction is that the Federal Trade Commission can handle the first item, the Department of Agriculture the second and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice the third — although for Tauke this is beside the point at the present juncture.
Although there are many outstanding people employed at the Federal Communications Commission, we do not need the FCC to accomplish any of these objectives. We could take the $335,794,000 the agency requested for the 2010 fiscal year 2010 for 1,924 full-time equivalents and other expenses and use it to pay for ubiquitous broadband at the fastest speeds or to reduce the deficit.
The most successful industries the FCC regulates are those industries the FCC regulates least, such as cable and wireless. And broadband. As Tauke notes,

Broadband providers have invested hundreds of billions of dollars for deployment of broadband networks. Verizon alone has deployed more fiber than all the countries in Europe. The result: today about 96 percent of Americans have access to at least two providers of wireline broadband and as many as three wireless providers, and more than 55 million Americans can connect to a broadband network capable of delivering at least a 50mbps stream.

The FCC doesn’t produce a single broadband connection. It just produces plans and policies of questionable value.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.