Cicconi Notes Dearth of ISP-Bashing in D.C.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, said that historic slams on ISPs as snakes in the virtuous internet garden are pretty much yesterday's policy story. 

Jim Cicconi

Jim Cicconi

During the previous administration, ISPs were the target of most of the attacks--from the White House, Congress and activist groups--but that worm has turned in favor (make that "disfavor) of edge providers, a point Cicconi made in a blog post Monday, citing a New York Times series, "So the Internet Didn’t Turn Out as We Hoped. Where Do We Go from Here?” 

"The series covered a lot of ground – the need for additional investment to address broadband gaps in rural America; the rise of subscription services to help users curate and tame the internet; and the Chinese internet, exemplified by the 'SuperApp' WeChat, which might provide insights into the internet’s future," Cicconi pointed out. "Other topics explored included the growing influence and dominance of the large tech platforms and how state sponsored misinformation campaigns are challenging truth on the internet." 

But Cicconi was more interested in what it didn't talk about. 

"Notably, nowhere does the series discuss internet service provider (ISP)-based open internet misconduct or concerns," he said, "and for good reason. As intervening events in the last few years have dramatically exposed how the internet is being used, misused and manipulated by a variety of internet players, ISP-centric arguments have quickly become yesterday’s policy story." 

Cicconi said it was time to revamp a regulatory framework "applied only to a narrow set of internet players." Playing off the Times piece's title, Cicconi said that it is the regulatory "myopia" of focusing on ISPs to the exclusion of other actors that has produced the internet that nobody expected.  

"Perhaps this time the policies that emerge will be based not on outdated or inaccurate guesses we all found ourselves making too many years ago, but instead on a totally fresh look at the actual threats to the open internet of today," he wrote.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.