Business Review Board / November 22, 2017

FCC Seeks Repeal of Obama-Era Internet Regs

Chairman Pai argues that repeal is needed in order to pull back on an unnecessary government power grab.

On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced that his agency would be seeking to repeal Barack Obama-era regulation of the Internet, which Pai described as a “heavy-handed, utility-style regulation.” When asked about the potential for a few major corporations to essentially take over control of the Internet should the net neutrality rules be repealed, Pai answered, “Now as you said, there could be some kind of anti-competitive conduct by one or a couple players. And to me, at least, the question is, how do you want to address that? Do you want to have preemptive regulation based on rules that were generated in the Great Depression to regulate this dynamic space, or do you want to take targeted action against the bad apples as they pop up? And to me, at least, the targeted action is the better approach.”

Pai, a former senior lawyer for Verizon, argues that the rules regulating the Internet be returned to their original scope. He describes the Obama-era regulations as: “A solution that won’t work, to address a problem that doesn’t exist.”

That’s not entirely true. The concept of net neutrality is a good thing, especially when 50% of America has access only through a single broadband provider. Net neutrality also expresses the spirit of the First Amendment, and it is entirely understandable that people would be concerned should that freedom be threatened by monopolistic corporate greed dictating what content will be delivered and at what cost. There is a huge tension between the profit motives of certain monopolies and the free access of information by their customers.

But the spirit of Liberty enjoyed by American citizens is one that first guards and protects against an over-controlling and totalitarian government. So the question is whether Internet regulations protect or infringe freedom of speech. The dilemma is one of trust, and neither an overbearing government nor monopolistic Internet companies are worthy of that trust.

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