With insurmountable majorities in both Houses of Congress, Congressional Democrats had the votes to jam through any piece of legislation they liked. They didn’t need the support of Republicans, and they acted as if they didn’t even need the popular support of the American people. They had the votes.
Or so they thought. Massachusetts’ new Senator-elect Scott Brown says the biggest driver behind his remarkable election was the people’s disgust with “the way things are being done.” Voters are unhappy with a ruling majority that seems intent to pass an agenda without regard to the will and concerns of the people.
It’s not too big a stretch to see a parallel situation at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where Democrat-appointed commissioners “have the votes” to jam through new federal regulatory control over the Internet through so-called “network neutrality” regulations.
Meanwhile, the groups most affected by the proposed FCC regulations, consumers and companies, are seemingly being ignored.
As has been reported by the Internet Freedom Coalition, more than 32,000 citizens filed comments opposing proposed network neutrality regulations. On the other hand, only 13,000 filed comments supporting giving FCC unprecedented regulatory control of the Internet. 71% to 29% on a very specific issue–if this were an election THAT would be a landslide.
In addition, by all reports, companies that previously have taken very different positions in this debate are finding ways to reach common ground. At IPI’s Communications Summit last November, Amazon.com’s vice president for global public policy was clear in his comments that he was concerned about arbitrary prioritization that harms other users’ online experience, but even so, he agreed that network operators should be able to manage their networks to provide the best product for all consumers and should be free to try new business models.
And more recently, Google and Verizon filed FCC comments seeking common ground, AT&T and Comcast have both made clear that they would like to address any real concerns even while preserving their ability to best serve their customers, and everyone is urging that the practical need for network operation and management trump ideological agendas.
And of course the best proof of all is the continuation of innovation in the communications marketplace driven by consumer demand and creative offerings, and not by government regulation or prescription.
‘Today’s TechByte was written by Bartlett D. Cleland, director of IPI Center for Technology Freedom.’