Last updated: May 24, 2010 - 8:48am
[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposed "third way" for broadband regulation is unacceptable.
For some eight years, the agency has argued that broadband constitutes an "information service" and that it should be subject only to a light regulatory touch. To reverse course now by classifying broadband as a telecommunications service would require the agency to throw out years of its own data and analysis. While agencies have broad latitude in reevaluating regulatory schemes, reversals should be linked to significant market shifts. The facts do not support such a conclusion, and the FCC should not now try to shoehorn broadband into an existing -- but incompatible -- regulatory scheme.
What is needed is a fourth way: The agency, industry, consumer groups and other interested parties should work with Congress to craft clear but limited rules tailored to broadband. Advocates of increased oversight worry that the often-protracted legislative process will leave a gaping regulatory void that ISPs will exploit to engage in mischief. This is nonsense. It ignores the ISPs' need to provide good service to keep their customers, and it does not take into account the healthy oversight provided by those consumers and Internet watchdog groups. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department also have the power to police anticompetitive or fraudulent acts.
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