Chairman Julius Genachowski is moving forward as rapidly as he dares to add the Federal Communications Commission to the growing list of government agencies used by President Barack Obama to enforce a radical agenda opposed by the Democratic Congress and an overwhelming majority of voters.
Genachowski recently unveiled a revised draft of his 2009 Net neutrality proposal that would put the Internet under a New Deal-era communications bureaucracy. Under the guise of protecting consumers from being forced to pay for varying levels of delivery access and speed, Genachowski proposes to drag the Internet under the same regulatory authority that puts the FCC in charge of radio, telephone and television broadcasting.
Internet service providers would be barred from charging multiple rates to different customers, and from denying selected applications and services access to their networks. The proposal contains vague mentions of new “incentives” to service providers to expand their networks to ensure equal access to the Web. Virtually all major service providers oppose the proposal, while it is favored by radical political activists masquerading as consumer advocates, some liberal members of Congress and federal bureaucrats who never miss an opportunity to justify bigger budgets and staffs.
Genachowski said his proposal will make the FCC “the cop on the beat” bringing justice and fairness to the Internet on behalf of consumers. The cop is needed, he said, because too often service providers have “prevented consumers from using the applications of their choice. The framework is designed to guard against these risks while protecting the needs and interests of providers.” In other words, Genachowski is from the government and he is here to help us.
In fact, Genachowski does not have the authority to regulate the Internet. Making his agency the cop on the digital beat would be like sending a Department of Agriculture meat inspector to arrest a college admissions director for charging out-of-state students more than those who live in the state.
In April, a U.S. appeals court ruled that in the absence of explicit congressional authorization, the FCC currently lacks authority to impose a Net neutrality requirement on Comcast, one of the largest service providers. Worse for Genachowski, a bill drafted by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, and designed to give that authority to the FCC never made it out of the panel this year.
And most damaging of all for Genachowski, CNN recently reported that all 95 Democratic congressional candidates who signed a pledge to support Net neutrality lost Nov. 2.
Undaunted by the opposition, Genachowski’s FCC is scheduled to consider his proposal Dec. 21.