Has the FCC Reversed its Policy on Internet Regulation?

As recently as last year, the FCC did not have any plans to ensure Net Neutrality through internet regulation. Nope. Not even an inkling. So why is the FCC suddenly desirous to bring the entire internet under rules designed to break up phone company monopolies? According to some in the FCC, this shift in policy began when Obama snapped his fingers:

Last year when the FCC invited comments about possible regulatory changes, only two paragraphs of an 85-page document mentioned the possibility of subjecting the Internet to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. “To be clear, the deficiencies in the notice were not the product of incompetence,” [Republican Commissioner Ajit] Pai wrote. “Rather, they reflect the fact that the agency was headed in a different direction until political pressure was applied.”

Shortly after Mr. Obama demanded in November that the FCC treat the Internet as a utility, the commission’s Democratic majority stopped work on their less extreme plan and scurried to adopt the Obamanet approach, which the FCC had always opposed.

Why did the FCC oppose it? Because it will certainly stifle innovation. In fact, the only people who stand to benefit from the plan are already-established, asset-rich networks. In other words, the very companies that the regulations are intended to confront.

But why is this such a big deal? Surely bureaucracies change their tack all the time. It might be a bad policy, but why all the hullabaloo over Obama’s influence on it? For one simple reason: the FCC is supposed to be an independent organization. Much like the Federal Reserve, they are supposed to (key words) operate in the best interest of the people without succumbing to political pressures.

In the case of the FCC, bowing to political pressure could produce an environment ripe for direct government control of the media. Which, I think we all can agree, would be bad.

It might be the case that the civil government already has too much sway in what the masses do or do not get to hear and see. But if these kinds of precedents continue, we’re headed very quickly to a fulfillment of the most dire dystopian prophecies.

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