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FCC should keep its hands off the Internet

Where we stand

August 8, 2010
The Mining Journal

If anyone needs a prime example of business growth made possible without the intrusive hand of government getting in the way, we'd like to offer the Internet as that example.

Since the early to mid-1990s, the 'Net has exploded from a handful of academic and government sites to literally millions and millions of pages viewable by anyone anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One can shop, follow a favorite sports team, Hollywood personality or blogger simply by clicking and moving a computer mouse - all without the help of the federal government.

Indeed, one can make the case that the best thing Uncle Sam has done to support Internet development and evolution is to get out of the way and let it just happen. That's The Mining Journal's opinion, too.

Now, though, we hear murmurings coming from inside the Beltway that have us wondering what the government is up to, or proposes to be up to. From what we understand, some inside the Federal Communications Commission are desiring to increase that agency's control and influence over the 'Net.

Statements from the FCC that such regulation will be made with a light hand leave many, including us, skeptical.

From what we can see, there isn't a lot of support for this concept outside the agency. Start with the courts. A federal appellate panel upheld a complaint from Internet and cable television giant Comcast, which opted, for business reasons, to slow Internet access for certain customers using significant amounts of bandwidth.

The agency wanted to know how Comcast operates its Internet service, information far outside where the FCC could reasonably be expected to go under the current rules scheme. Ultimately, federal judges sided with Comcast in the dispute.

The Michigan Legislature has approved resolutions opposing FCC regulation of the 'Net and many in the U.S. House have taken the same stand. Indeed, at least one representative has gone so far as to suggest the agency's funding be blocked if the FCC continues.

This is one of those ideas that has few, if any, redeeming qualities. The kind of regulatory control the FCC desires over the Internet rightfully rests with Congress, not a room full of largely anonymous bureaucrats and political apointees. It's time the FCC and the people who run it are told to stay away from the Internet.



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