Originally published: July 5, 2010
Last updated: July 5, 2010 - 9:17pm
[Commentary] Echoes of "The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham abound in the Federal Communications Commission's dispute with communications giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast over broadband access "reclassification."
At issue is whether the agency should be able to set clear and fair policies regarding how these companies transmit data online and allow users to access content on the Internet. Without the ability to set such ground rules, the FCC would be powerless to prevent these companies from ignoring online privacy concerns, engaging in false billing practices or interfering with Internet users' content access. The agency also would be unable to set rules for developing online start-ups that could become the Facebooks, eBays and Googles of tomorrow. Like the oil megalith in Grisham's book, powerful network operators want to avoid the inevitable court resolution of their dispute with the FCC. So they have turned to Congress to bail them out — not, apparently, to change the law but to prevent the FCC from acting under current law.
Proposals for legislative action on reclassification are distractions. They may be a summer blockbuster for lobbyists, but there is little suspense surrounding the right outcome here. The country needs action now, not years of bickering in the halls of Congress. The FCC should move ahead to exercise the authority it already possesses under existing law.
[Tyrone Brown is president of Media Access Project]
- Coalition Seeks Timely FCC Decision on Broadband Classification
- More Reaction to FCC Broadband Classification Plan
- Minority groups to oppose FCC reclassification
- Open Internet Coalition to FCC: Don't Wait for Congress
- Some clarity in war over Internet access
- Media Access Project Announces New President Tyrone Brown
- ITIF: Reclassification of Broadband Not Necessary
- Reaction to Genachowski's New Network Neutrality Proposal
- Ohio supports FCC's 'Third Way'
- Sen. Nelson opposes broadband reclassification by FCC
- Internet Freedom Coalition: Title II Is 'Potentially Disastrous'
- FCC and Title II: All Options Said To Be Still On Table
- Tyrone Brown leaving MAP after One Year
- Google-Verizon Pact: It Gets Worse
- Time Warner, Free Press Have Their Say on Broadband Reclassification