Nixonian doublespeak from FCC

A Federal Communications Commission spokesperson, responding to rumors that the commission may enact network neutrality regulation three days before Christmas, told a publication called The Hill that if government regulates broadband, it’s not “regulation.” Reminds me of former President Richard Nixon’s logic, e.g., if the president does it, it is not a crime. Net Neutrality is about preventing anyone from regulating the Internet. There are some cable and phone companies out there that want to decide which apps you should get on your phone, which Internet sites you should look at, and what online videos you can download. That’s regulating the Internet — and that’s what the FCC is trying to stop. I guess it depends on what the term Read More ›

Is ignorance blissful?

Senator Rockefeller, chairman of the committee with jurisdiction for the Federal Communications Commission, wishes there were something that could be done to cut down on the number of choices Americans enjoy for news, commentary and entertainment: I hunger for quality news. I’m tired of the right and the left. There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC “Out. Off. End. Goodbye.” Would be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress and to the American people to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and more importantly in their future. We need slimmed down Read More ›

Gilder: California’s Fall Threatens All

Our Sr. Fellow George Gilder now commands the “most read” space on the Wall Street Journal opinion page today with “California’s Destructive Green Jobs Lobby”. The information adds nails to the coffin that voters in the Golden State have fashioned for themselves. It has been a familiar theme for Discovery News (discoverynews.org) for weeks. You might think that the California calamity opens opportunities for other states, notably nearby Washington, where voters just turned down an income tax on the wealthy (e.g., entrepreneurs, small businesses, investors in new jobs) and where the next state legislative session is not about new taxes, but major surgery on spending. Washington has energy for power-hungry computer companies and it has an outstanding employee base. Texas Read More ›

Will green investment save us?

George Gilder writes that the campaign to reduce greenhouse gasses wastes scarce and precious technological and entrepreneurial resources indispensable to the nation’s future, in today’s Wall Street Journal. About whether green companies create new jobs, Gilder says, In a parody of supply-side economics, advocates of [California’s] AB 32 envisage the substitution of alternative energy sources that create new revenue sources, new jobs and industries. Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.

Demonizing successful entrepreneurs

Speaking of Tim Wu, in a recent New York Times interview the author of The Master Switch says he thinks capitalism “by its nature, is about conflict, and ultimately the life and death of firms.” He adds that some entrepreneurs are not motivated by money or comfort. Instead, they are motivated by power, and the information industries offer possibilities unavailable to people who sell orange juice or rubber boots, a power over people’s minds. Wu is referring to men like Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, one or both of whom he deems an “information emperor.” To argue that Jobs and Zuckerberg crave power over people’s minds is almost to equate them with some of the fictional Read More ›

Regulate broadband, or regulate the Internet?

Commenting on routine contract (e.g. “retransmission”) negotiations between Fox and Cablevision, Michael J. Copps of the Federal Communications Commission had this to say: For a broadcaster to pull programming from the Internet for a cable company’s subscribers, as apparently happened here, directly threatens the open Internet. This was yet another instance revealing how vulnerable the Internet is to discrimination and gate-keeper control absent clear rules of the road. Whoa. Copps is saying net neutrality regulation should apply not only to Internet access providers, but also to content providers. That’s not exactly mainstream. You’ve got to appreciate the guy’s intellectual honesty. In May, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said: “I have been clear about what the FCC should not do in the Read More ›

Does the First Amendment mandate net neutrality?

From a “defender” of the First Amendment: The First Amendment, of course, protects speech only from the government. But access to the Internet is provided by private corporations enabled by government, and protecting the same interests and values that the First Amendment protects, requires in this case that the government create strong policies against incursion by companies that are, at root, profit-seeking rather than civic-minded. So argues a report from the American Civil Liberties Union entitled “Network Neutrality 101 – Why The Government Must Act To Preserve The Free And Open Internet.” Basically, the argument seems to be that if the government subsidizes, licenses or regulates something, it can be treated just like the government, at least for First Amendment Read More ›

Florida telecom reform

I was privileged to make a presentation at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s “Future of Florida Forum” concerning telecommunications regulation and broadband investment. My bullet points are here.

Scope and complexity of net neutrality proposals at issue

Yesterday the FCC received further public comment on two issues in the Open Internet (aka net neutrality) proceeding: (1) the relationship between open Internet protections and services that are provided over the same last-mile facilities as broadband Internet access service (“specialized services”) and (2) the application of open Internet rules to mobile wireless Internet access services, which have unique characteristics related to technology, associated application and device markets, and consumer usage. Basically, the first issue can be summarized as follows: the FCC wants to regulate broadband Internet access services, but has tried to carve out innovative future services because it does not want to be subject to the criticism that regulation would likely inhibit innovation. It is clear the FCC Read More ›

Net neutrality dead?

Amy Schatz of the Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans on Chairman Henry A. Waxman’s Energy & Commerce Committee declined to support his net neutrality proposal. Which is not a big surprise. And that the proposal was opposed for different reasons by members of his own party. Waxman apparently acted completely honorably in search of middle ground. Yet, it is now more clear than ever that net neutrality is nothing more than a left-wing fantasy. Moderate Democrats don’t really care. Republicans oppose it, of course. We now know it cannot pass in a House of Representatives with a significant Democratic majority. Chairman Waxman says, “If Congress can’t act, the FCC must,” according to Schatz. That’s very amusing. If the FCC Read More ›