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Takeaways from the FCC's Open Internet Further Inquiry

What have we learned from the FCC's wise inaction this week, in deciding to not vote to declare broadband a Title II telephone service before the election, and to ask more questions in a further Open Internet regulation inquiry about specialized and mobile services?

#1 Stakeholder collaboration/negotiation works. The FCC apparently now better recognizes that the open industry collaborative dynamic that has been so consistently successful in resolving most every other major Internet issue over the last couple of decades, can also succeed in appropriately resolving the FCC's Open Internet concerns now -- if only given the time and flexibility to negotiate a workable outcome.

#2 Apparently net neutrality is not the popular populist political issue it has been touted to be. The September-October period before an election is when the real political rubber meets the road.

  • If net neutrality was the true populist winning issue with the grass roots (i.e. voters) -- that the extreme left has long-claimed it to be -- they would be running on it hard in this election season.
  • Tellingly, the FCC's political assessment to delay deciding these controversial issues until after the November election -- combined with the obvious political assent of the extreme left as evidenced by the totally uncharacteristic muted rhetoric of FreePress -- speaks volumes about the real politics of net neutrality nationally.
  • It appears that the extreme left (FreePress, Moveon.org, Public Knowledge et. al), which have been pushing absolute net neutrality and Title II regulation of broadband, now recognize that their political strategy of demonizing business -- i.e. arguing that Big Business is a worse threat to America than Big Government -- does not work in a listless economy that is not creating jobs or encouraging private investment.

#3 The FCC is not confident a Title II broadband declaration would be found legal or constitutional. The FCC clearly did not want a WWIII-scale request for a stay and full legal challenge to a potential FCC 3-2 declaration deeming broadband a Title II regulated telephone service.

  • The FCC also clearly did not want to trigger a high profile legal challenge that would argue publicly that an FCC broadband Title II declaration would:
    • Cause irreparable harm to the economy, jobs, the Internet, innovation, and investment;
    • Be a clear constitutional infringement of freedom of speech and a takings of property without just compensation; and
    • Be an arbitrary and capricious Government action that was not supported by the FCC's legal authority or by the facts.

#4  The net neutrality movement is balkanizing. A big reason why net neutrality has been such a contentious issue is that those demanding "it" don't agree among themselves about what "it" is that they really want.

  • As the issue has matured and different stakeholders have been smoked out over almost four years of contention and negotiation, the once supposedly monolithic net neutrality movement has been exposed as a rag tag collection of corporate special interests and an ever-evolving smorgasbord of harebrained policy demands from the extreme left.
  • It is noteworthy that the original members of the ItsOurNet coalition (the predecessor to the Open Internet coalition) -- Google eBay-Skype, Amazon, IAC, Microsoft, and Yahoo -- have all balkanized to some extent and are largely going their own way pushing their own flavor of net neutrality that serves their own individual self-interests.
  • The serb-croat-like fissure caused by Google breaking ranks and trying to propose a reasonable legislative compromise on net neutrality -- fractured the Open Internet coalition facade of unity and unleashed an astonishingly venomous and extended political temper tantrum from FreePress and Moveon.org.

In sum, a lot has happened since the FCC first announced its Open Internet proceeding eleven months ago and the extreme left began demanding Title II regulation of broadband shortly after that.

  • Simply, what is becoming clearer as the dust begins to settle on all this, is that the Internet's tried and true record of successful collaboration and negotiation to resolve the Internet's many issues, continues to work here in resolving the issue of Internet openness.
  • If the FCC continues to allow stakeholders the time and flexibility to work this issue out, the tried and true Internet record of collaboration can and will produce the optimal Open Internet outcome for all involved.















 

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