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Dingell’s Challenge to the FCC: Show Me the Proof On the Third Way

The Ranking Minority Member of the House Energy and Commerce Representative John Dingell has written a 4-page letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski challenging the basis and authority for the “third approach” to regulating the Internet announced by the Chairman this month.  In the letter, Dingell asks the Chairman to reply to a series of questions and to justify how the agency surmised the decision to explore the third approach.  The questions might as well have been rhetorical as they each spell out all the different ways and reasons the Third Approach is ripe to be challenged and mired in litigation and judicial interpretation that would return the FCC to where it was the day after the Comcast decision was made. In short, Dingell predicts what many can already foresee; that the third approach will be a time waster.  The Commission wants to promote competition, transparency, access and a continued open Internet experience for all. The fact remains, however, that the best way for that to be done is through a different and more thorough exploration of the issue.

As almost all can agree, no one wants the Internet as we know it changing or altering for the worse. The risk of changing a working ecosystem now is a degraded experience for all.  It’s not much to ask that the agency collect as much data, explore all possible alternatives, solutions and examine the practical effects of the regulation and the industry before acting. Up until now, there has not been any clear indication that the FCC was planning on taking into consideration the varying perspectives of all stake holders involved.  It appeared to be on a one track course to adopting some form of network. It is great to see Representative Dingell ask these questions.  They are relevant and important. I, for one , anxiously await the FCC’s response.


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2 comments

  • We know how the FCC came up with the “third way” approach: it was proposed by lobbyists funded by Google. Google wants “network neutrality” regulation to be passed by any means possible, because they would protect its monopoly, forestall competition, and deprive ISPs of any meaningful influence over the future of the Net, leaving Google in the driver’s seat. It’s a corporate agenda, not sound government. And it’s almost certainly unconstitutional. Administrative agencies can’t make law.

  • Interesting, Brett. Someone noted that it is about content providers trying to ensure that ISPs and those who control the conduit do not unfairly suppress the rights of their competitors to reach audiences. Your theory and perspective make sense also. I’ve said from early on that this fight is a battle between the hedge funds. The investors want their investments to not be saddled by regulation but would like to see those in power of getting in the way of their investments taking off to be reigned in…enter the FCC to do the deed.

    Somehow, consumers, small businesses, minorities and the rest of the lot got thrown in the mix to shake things up and confuse the issue, I agree!

    And another point, administrative agencies can and do make regulations which, for that particular industry they regulate, are akin to law. There are penalties for failing to comply. The distinction though is that Congress has the authority to prescribe the limits and scope of the regulations that the agencies regulate.

    In this case, it looks as though the old archaic authority via the old 1996 Telecom Act is no longer applicable and it is time for Congress to step in and catch up the law with today’s technology.

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