Free State Foundation Blasts 'Fatefully Misguided' Title II Regs

Free market think tank Free State Foundation put some reverse spin on Shakespeare, succinctly counting the ways in which Title II was unloved.

"The Title II Order was a fatefully misguided act of regulatory aggression leveled at a dynamic broadband Internet marketplace, and it must be reversed," Free State said in its comments strongly backing the FCC proposal to reverse Title II. Initial comments were dueMonday.

It called the FCC's Title II order 1) unwise, 2) unnecessary, 3) unjustified, and 4) unsound.

It also called on the FCC to "without delay" rectify the situation and "remedy the demonstrable harm that misguided foray into overzealous Internet regulation has caused."

That would be by rescinding the Title II telecom classification and returning to the light-touch regime under an information services classification.

Free State argues that Title II has depressed investment, that there is no market power or consumer harm justification for the FCC's imposition of utility regs on ISPs, and that once the FCC has rolled back Title II, both the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission will have the authority to address anticompetitive concerns about ISP practices.

Free state also argues that the FCC lacks direct statutory authority to regulate ISP practices. But if the FCC concludes it needs to have some regulatory oversight under ancillary authority, it should permit paid prioritization, unless it is demonstrably anticompetitive, and should regulate access under a commercial reasonableness standard on a case-by-case basis, rather than the current bright-line rules against blocking and throttling.

That standard should require findings of both market power and consumer harm, it said, taking a page from antitrust enforcement.

As to paid prioritization, "Consumers stand to benefit from novel services providing Quality-of-Service guarantees that depend upon paid priority arrangements between broadband ISPs and edge providers."

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.