March 1 2010
Overreach of FCC Power Threatens Internet Freedom
The administrative state, which has its roots in the Progressive era and took hold in the mid-1960s with President Johnson’s Great Society, threatens the nation every day. As Matthew Spaulding of The Heritage Foundation wrote recently in National Review, “progressive reformism is back. We’re witnessing huge increases in government spending, regulations, and programs. . . [and] many policy decisions that were previously the constitutional responsibility of elected legislators are delegated to faceless bureaucrats whose “rules” have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress.”
The public is rightly fearful of what a government takeover of health care will look like. But government intervention and regulation by “faceless bureaucrats” is taking place in myriad policy areas that are not necessarily making front-page news every day.
Take the Internet, for instance. According to a new study by Pew Research, “the internet has surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a news platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV.”
Perhaps that’s why it should not come as a surprise that the Federal Communications Commission has been eager to wrap its regulatory tentacles around this newest form of communication for years now.
This past fall, the FCC proposed “net neutrality” rules that they claim would allow Internet traffic to flow more freely. Opponents, however, rightfully fear what this kind of regulation would mean for innovation and development.
Now former United States Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre has written a paper addressing the FCC’s attempted power grab, and his conclusion is clear: “when it comes to the ‘net neutrality’ rules, Congress has not delegated that authority.”
Too often the public shrugs off regulations like net neutrality rules, only helping to strengthen the administrative state. But as Spaulding reminds us, “as the national government becomes more centralized and bureaucratic, it will also become less democratic, and more despotic, than ever.”