June 17 2011
Show Me the Rules!
Nicole Kurokawa Neily
When a government agency passes a heavy-handed set of regulatory rules governing a major sector of our economy on the eve of a national holiday, it’s either because those rules are important and time sensitive… or it’s because they’re controversial and need to be devoid of public scrutiny. Unfortunately, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to pass net neutrality regulations on the eve of the Christmas holiday last year, it was for the latter.
How do we know that these rules weren’t important, and weren’t time-sensitive? Why, because the public still hasn’t seen a published version of the rules yet – almost half a year later!
Who’d have thought… a bureaucracy that emphasizes transparency for others (like Internet Service Providers) doesn’t show any trace of transparency itself?!
Net neutrality proponents argued that these rules would provide certainty for broadband investment. Unfortunately, quite the opposite has happened. By passing opaque regulations – and then not allowing anyone to see them – the FCC has in fact created a tremendous amount of uncertainty. As I’ve written in the past, such uncertainty has paralyzed the market and discouraged investment and growth. Who in their right mind would make a massive investment into a situation with unknown rules?
It’s time to remove uncertainty from such a dynamic sector of our economy by implementing transparency at the FCC. It’s time for the FCC to publish the rules, period. They went to such extremes to pass these rules last year, before Christmas, when Congress was out, and most of the other policy makers as well. So where are they?