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article imageQ &A with Evan Feinberg on FCC regulations and the Internet Special

By Molly Zelvonberger     Sep 17, 2014 in Internet
Once you're online, you don't have to ask permission or pay tolls to broadband providers to reach others on the network. And if you have an innovative new website imagine having to get permission to do so.
Millions of people use the Internet for the purpose of communicating in any form or fashion they choose. Although there is a dark side, most of us use the Internet for varies reasons and it has come under fire recently, Open Internet is sometimes accompanied with the work net neutrality. The key issue now is Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s proposed Title II
The FCC, under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, is attempting to regulate the Internet’s use, price, expansion, terms, conditions, and even content as if it were a public utility. FCC regulation would discourage innovation and investment in the Internet which our economy cannot afford.
I asked President Evan Feinberg from Generation Opportunity to share his thoughts on the topic. Generation Opportunity which is an advocacy group that helps young people engage in political policy and let their voices be heard.
Q: How has the Internet made the most impact in your mind?
A: The Internet, like the printing press before it, has revolutionized our access to information. A kid in high school today has access to more information from the phone in their pocket then President Clinton had in the oval office.
Q: What is your understanding as to why the regulation has been in process - you mention stifle progress could you give an example?
A: There’s no doubt there are powerful special interests that are lobbying to use Title II to regulate the Internet. Regulations often allow those in the marketplace to prevent competition from newer and more innovative companies. The result, however, is that these regulations will stifle innovation and progress. Years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty will diminish investment in broadband Internet, and the cable and telephone industries will rule the day rather than companies like Google and their Fiber product.
One example is the ability of companies to build broadband pipes and fiber cables (such as Google Fiber), which increase competition and access for consumers.
Q: What are some of the regulations that has you alarmed?
A: The most concerning regulations would allow bureaucrats to determine the prices and practices of broadband companies.
If the Internet is classified as a public utility, the FCC will have more power to censor material, impose retail price controls, and opens questions to what the FCC can legally offer in terms of national surveillance.
The following language is most concerning:
"Whenever . . . the Commission shall be of opinion that any charge, classification, regulation, or practice of any carrier or carriers is or will be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the Commission is authorized and empowered to determine and prescribe what will be the just and reasonable charge or the maximum or minimum, or maximum and minimum, charge or charges to be thereafter observed, and what classification, regulation, or practice is or will be just, fair, and reasonable, to be thereafter followed, and to make an order that the carrier or carriers shall cease and desist from such violation to the extent that the Commission finds that the same does or will exist, and shall not thereafter publish, demand, or collect any charge other than the charge so prescribed, or in excess of the maximum or less than the minimum so prescribed, as the case may be, and shall adopt the classification and shall conform to and observe the regulation or practice so prescribed."
Q: Can you give an example on how some of the regulation will affect a small business owner, blogger, freelancer, people who depend on the Internet to do business?
A: The average small business owner, blogger, freelancer, etc. will be subject to the whims of bureaucrats at the FCC (and the deep-pocketed companies lobbying them) rather than their customers.
If the Internet is classified as a public utility, the FCC could have the authority to regulate all web businesses. Small web start-ups, many of which are run by Millennials, would need to hire entire legal teams just to navigate the labyrinth. Less competition and choice could also drive up the price of Internet access and decrease the investment made in broadband
In conclusion, those advising broadband Title II, risk the FCC profoundly changing the real economics of the Internet, seriously financially disadvantaging the Internet content and application providers they say they intend to protect, and effectively making the current economics of much ecommerce and cloud computing business models unworkable going forward according to net competition.org -
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