FSF President Randolph May Applauds FCC
Chairman Ajit Pai's Proposal to Curtail Internet Regulation:
Current Rules Lead to Net Neutering, not Net Neutrality
Free State Foundation President Randolph May issued the following statement in reaction to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's announcement today regarding plans to initiate a rulemaking proposal to revise the FCC's net neutrality regulations:
"I applaud Chairman Pai's initiation of a proceeding to reverse the most problematic aspects of the Internet regulations adopted by the Obama Administration's FCC. The most important proposal is the elimination of the Title II common carrier
classification for Internet providers because this designation subjected them to public utility-like regulation. Public utility regulation is inappropriate for a digital broadband marketplace that is competitive and dynamic. If left in place, I have no doubt that it will stifle innovation and investment.
Indeed, if left in place, Title II public utility regulation will neuter the Net. The current rules ought to be called 'net neutering,' not 'net neutrality.'
The proposal to eliminate the so-called 'good conduct' rule, which the FCC itself referred to as a 'catch-all' provision, is important also because it is just too open-ended, leaving too much unfettered discretion in the hands of government officials. Acting under the authority of the amorphous 'good conduct' rule, previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler declared war on wireless providers' popular free data programs. Thankfully, one of Chairman Ajit Pai's first actions was to end this war.
The Commission will need to address other aspects of the current rules, such as the absolute ban on paid prioritization. This strict prohibition prevents differentiation of services in a way that could enhance overall consumer welfare, and especially benefit those consumers who don't demand priority treatment but are now required to subsidize such treatment for those who do. This type of differentiation is the rule, not the exception, in most markets.
Finally, it will be important for the Commission to compile a solid record to support whatever actions the agency ultimately adopts. I expect it will do this, and I commend Chairman Pai for starting the process to curtail the present Internet regulation regime."
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Randolph J. May
, President of the Free State Foundation, is a former FCC Associate General Counsel and a former Chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. Mr. May is a current Senior Fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States, and a Fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration. He has written extensively on the Chevron deference doctrine.
Mr. May is a nationally recognized expert in communications law, Internet law and policy, and administrative law and regulatory practice. He is the author of more than 180 scholarly articles and essays on communications law and policy, administrative law, and constitutional law. Most recently, Mr. May is the co-author, with FSF Senior Fellow Seth Cooper, of the recently released The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property and is the editor of the book, Communications Law and Policy in the Digital Age: The Next Five Years. He is the author of A Call for a Radical New Communications Policy: Proposals for Free Market Reform. And he is the editor of the book, New Directions in Communications Policy and co-editor of other two books on communications law and policy: Net Neutrality or Net Neutering: Should Broadband Internet Services Be Regulated And Communications Deregulation and FCC Reform.
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