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Free State: Neutrality Rules Could Be Internet Fairness Doctrine

The Free State Foundation, a Maryland-based free-market
think tank, argues that the FCC's proposed expanded and codified network neutrality
rules could be a kind of fairness doctrine for ISPs, including cable and telco

Free State's
argument came in comments filed at the FCC Thursday on the commission's
proposal to expand and codify its network neutrality rules. The deadline for comment
is today (Jan. 14).

"They compel the ISP to convey or make available content it otherwise, for
whatever reason, might choose not to convey or make available," the group
said in its filing. It points out that the FCC in its notice proposing the
codification asks whether any First Amendment burdens might be "outweighed
by the speech-enabling benefits of an open Internet."

Network neutrality regulations, says Free State, "are
reminiscent of the Commission's Fairness Doctrine, which the agency jettisoned
two decades ago in light of the new media proliferating even then."

The doctrine, which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said is
"dead," required broadcasters to provide on-air access to the other
side of issues of public importance.

More generally, said Free State,
the codified rules could "discourage investment and job creation,
stymie innovation, and harm overall consumer welfare."