Father Knows Best? FCC Decides To Give Itself The Authority That Congress Never Did

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the FCC did not have full legal authority to regulate the Internet market.  So what did the FCC do about it?

Today, the FCC announced its would use the “best legal framework” for broadband access.  What this really means is that the FCC will change its rules and reclassify broadband services from an “information service” to a “common carrier service” like plain old telephones (called Title II regulation).  In that way, it will give itself the authority that Congress never did. 

However, while the FCC cites the need for a nationwide broadband plan, the primary reason for the FCC’s action is to impose harmful net neutrality regulations.

By taking these actions to reclassify broadband services under Title II regulation, the FCC is seeking to overturn the conclusions of prior commissions, despite the fact that broadband and wireless markets today are lower priced, have faster speeds, are more dependable and offer more choices for consumers than the market of just one decade ago.  The fact is that all of the empirical studies to date have concluded that net neutrality regulations would raise broadband prices, reduce jobs, and impede investment and innovation, which makes it so hard to understand why the FCC would jeopardize consumer welfare to implement such an onerous and costly regulatory remedy to fix a hypothetical problem.

The decision today by the FCC raises questions about the agencies expertise and independence.

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