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FCC Commissioner’s Staffer Makes Compelling Case Against Muni Broadband Preemption

August 22, 2014

by ALEC Blog Team
American Legislator

On August 20, Matthew Berry, Chief of Staff to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai, spoke out in convincing manner against FCC preemption of state laws restricting municipal broadband networks. His remarks revealed the unwise, unlawful and unconstitutional dimensions of the FCC’s power-grab-in-progress.

The FCC is now taking public comment on a pair of petitions seeking preemption of state laws restricting muni broadband networks. One petition seeks federal preemption of a Tennessee law restricting the geographic boundaries of local government-owned broadband networks. Another petition seeks preemption of a North Carolina law that includes local voter approval requirements before such networks can be built. The implications of both petitions extend far beyond muni broadband. Federal preemption on the basis now being considered by the FCC would subvert structural federalism principles underlying the U.S. Constitution. Read More…

Independent agencies: The lost lesson of civics and civility

August 21, 2014

by Gus Hurwitz
Tech Policy Daily

Pro-Title II groups have regularly urged the President to get involved in the FCC’s Open Internet proceedings. Characteristic of these efforts is Free Press’s self-styled “Campaign to Push Obama on Net Neutrality.” Similar suasion has been applied to members of Congress. These efforts have increased in recent weeks with the Editorial Board of the New York Times addressing Title II in an editorial called “President Obama: No Internet Fast Lanes” and pro-Title II advocates penning a public letter requesting a meeting with the President to discuss these issues.

These efforts show at best a basic – and ironic – ignorance of the structure of our Federal government, and at worst a deliberate intent to win political points by further agitating and confusing an already bewildered public. Read More…

Republican FCC aide predicts uphill battle on local Internet fight

August 21, 2014

by Kate Tummarello
Hillicon Valley

The Federal Communications Commission is on shaky legal ground if it wants to overturn state laws as it tries to increase competition among Internet providers, according to a top Republican aide at the agency.

During an address in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, predicted an uphill battle for the agency as it intervenes in states where laws prevent local governments from starting their own Internet networks. Read More…

Norquist: Local Internet projects are ‘none of the FCC’s business’

August 21, 2014

by Kate Tummarello
Hillicon Valley

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist wants federal regulators to stay out of state legislative battles over Internet competition.

In a statement on Wednesday, Norquist pushed back against the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to intervene in places where state laws prevent local governments from creating Internet networks. Read More…

Grover Norquist’s Statement on FCC Involvement in Municipal Broadband

August 20, 2014

by Cassandra Carroll
Americans for Tax Reform
Today, in an address to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mathew Berry, Chief of Staff to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, made clear that states asking the FCC to preempt state law would violate the Constitution, and has no basis in legal precedent.
In response, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

The bipartisan NCSL has said that it will take the FCC to court to stop any attempt by the Commission to preempt state regulation of taxpayer-funded broadband networks.  The FCC should not waste valuable time and taxpayer dollars in futile legal wrangling.  It’s none of the FCC’s business if state governments forbid cities from wasting taxpayer dollars.

Commissioner’s Staffer Makes Persuasive Case Against Muni Broadband Preemption

August 22, 2014

by Seth Cooper
The Free State Foundation

Matthew Berry’s August 20 remarks to the National Conference of State Legislators hit all the high points about the problems posed by the FCC attempting to preempt state restrictions on muni broadband networks.Berry serves as Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. In his remarks, Berry succinctly explained to the state legislators gathered at NCSL’s 2014 Legislative Summit why FCC lacks the power under Section 706 of the Communications Act to preempt state laws restricting or banning their local governments from going into the broadband Internet business. Stated Berry:

[T]he text of Section 706 doesn’t even mention preemption, let alone preemption of state laws that regulate municipalities. Instead, Section 706 embraces other means, like “price cap regulation” and “regulatory forbearance,” to accomplish its goals. And when it comes to the objectives set forth in Section 706(b)—removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition in the telecommunications market—the Tenth Circuit recently concluded that the provision gave the FCC authority to provide universal service support for broadband networks. In sum, Section 706 does not condone preemption of state laws either explicitly or implicitly, and so it hardly offers up the clear statement one would expect if Congress intended the FCC to “interpos[e] federal authority between a State and its municipal subdivisions.” Read More…

Understanding Title II: What The New York Times can learn from ‘The Princess Bride’

August 22, 2014

by Babette Boliek
Tech Policy Daily

I have a confession to make. Every time I read a new net neutrality squib advocating for Title II reclassification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), I cannot help but think that the author is really Vizzini from the movie The Princess Bride. If you haven’t seen it, you are in for a treat; if you have you know it is one of the most quotable films of all time. But to get back to my point, “[l]et me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up.” Read More…

Wheeler Stonewalls Congress on Muni Broadband Preemption

August 21, 2014

by Berin Szoka
Tech Freedom

Can the FCC preempt state laws restricting taxpayer-funded municipal broadband without violating the Constitution? In June, sixty House Republicans posed this very question to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Last week, Wheeler responded — but essentially refused to answer the question. He concluded a three page letter with this insightful legal analysis: “When state laws come into direct conflict with critically important federal law and policy, it is a long-standing principle of Constitutional law that state laws can be subject to federal preemption in appropriate cases.” Read More…

Debunking Consumerist Bogus Claim Mobile Data Does Not Compete with Cable

August 20, 2014

by Scott Cleland
Precursor Blog

Pro-regulation interests often resort to highly misleading arguments to advance their cause. Fortunately that kind of deception ultimately exposes the weakness of their underlying argument and public policy position.

To promote Netflix’ “strong” version of net neutrality regulation and to oppose the Comcast-TWC acquisition, Consumerist just framed a very deceptive whopper competition argument: “Comcast says mobile data is competitive, but it costs $2k to stream Breaking Bad over LTE.”

Consumerist“Since Netflix is the driver of so much internet traffic, and the center of so many of the conversations around home broadband, TV seemed to be the way to go. The question we decided to answer is: How much will you pay for the data it takes to watch the entire series run of Breaking Bad in one month?” Consumerist’s contrived calculation was $1,200 – $2,200 for a billing cycle.

Consumerist cynically uses a classic deceptive straw man argument, hoping that most people will not catch their bogus premise that Comcast does not have broadband competition from 4 national mobile LTE OTT competitors, because it is exceptionally more expensive to binge-watch premium video programming on mobile LTE plans than it is on cable.

Let’s deconstruct this clearly unreasonable straw man argument. Read More…

Net Neutrality: FCC Theory Would Extend Beyond ISPs Under Title II

August 15, 2014

by Fred Cambell
Red State

There is more at stake than net neutrality in the reclassification debate at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Imposing per se prohibitions against business-to-business arrangements involving ‘paid prioritization’ under Title II would be a radical departure from the core principles embodied in our communications laws. Yet the nature of this departure and its predictable consequences have received little attention thus far. That must change. Read More…

Free-Market Advocates’ Comments to FCC, Opposing Internet Regulation

July 15, 2014

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of  Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

GN Docket No. 14-28

Comments of

Free-Market Advocates Opposed to Internet Regulation

For 10 years officials at the Federal Communications Commission have told Americans that the Internet will “break” unless the agency steps in to keep it “free and open.”  All the while, the Internet’s privately driven development has been vibrant, relentless and universal.  Nevertheless, at points during this same period the Commission twice sought to encumber the Internet with restrictive common carrier-like, Net Neutrality regulations.  In response to each of these actions, the DC Circuit twice struck down the agency’s overreach.  In the latest DC Circuit ruling – Verizon v. FCC[1] – the Court struck down the main thrust of the Commission’s arguments, but found that the Commission had some authority under Section 706 of the Communications Act.   The Commission has apparently undertaken the present Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to once again establish a regulatory regime in the absence of a market failure or a clear Congressional grant of authority.

The Internet is “free and open,” making the vast “network of networks” an integral engine for societal growth, participatory democracy and global commerce.  Its healthy development came primarily through the lack of government regulation, not because of it.  Although the Court seems to have offered the FCC a very narrow pathway to impose some form of Net Neutrality regulation on the Internet, nothing demands that the FCC go forward with its present plans.

Read More…

IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Title II Reclassification Unjustified, Unnecessary

August 12, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service                    

GN Docket No. 10-127

FCC Docket No. 10-114

 Reply Comments

of the Undersigned Members of the

INTERNET FREEDOM COALITION

Introduction

The Commission is being asked by Free Press and other organizations to pursue a radical course of action – reclassifying information services as telecommunications services in order to regulate the Internet for the first time.  We write to urge the Commission to keep the Internet free of new government regulation and taxation and to refrain from rushing into such a potentially disastrous course of action.

Analysts are only beginning to grasp the extent of the disruptive and destructive consequences of regulating the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and the Commission is in no position to predict the outcome, much less assure Americans it will be positive.  Americans have heard political leaders admit that we will not know the full extent or nature of massive health care and financial services regulations until after the underlying legislation has been passed.  Now, Americans are facing the imposition of an even lesser-understood regulatory regime over the Internet without the benefit of any legislative process whatsoever.

CLICK HERE FOR PDF

IFC Supplemental Reply Comments: FCC Lacks Authority, Justification for Reclassifying Internet as Title II Service

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet              GN Docket No. 09-191                                  
Broadband Industry Practices            WC Docket No. 07-52

Supplemental Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

Just two days prior to the Commission’s deadline for reply comments regarding the above Notice of Proposed Rulemakings, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Comcast v. FCC that the Commission has no authority to enact Net Neutrality rules.  The deadline for comments was extended, particularly to facilitate discussion of other methods of promulgating Net Neutrality regulations.

 Beginning with comments on the National Broadband Plan filed by Public Knowledge in January, a small number of organizations have since proposed classifying the Internet as a Title II common carrier service as a way of asserting the Commission’s authority to enact Net Neutrality regulations.  The Internet Freedom Coalition respectfully submits these reply comments in strong opposition to any effort to reclassify the Internet as a Title II service.

Read More…

IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Refuting Free Press’ Arguments for Regulating the Internet

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                                           
Preserving the Open Internet                      GN Docket No. 09-191
Broadband Industry Practices                    WC Docket No. 07-52

Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

The following comments are submitted by the undersigned members of the Internet Freedom Coalition.  They are submitted in reply to comments filed by proponents of Network Neutrality regulations, and are attributable only to the signatories.

Read More…

Internet Freedom Coalition Comments to the FCC, Opposing Network Neutrality Regulations

February 23, 2010

Before the

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet,                 GN Docket No. 09-191
Broadband Industry Practices                WC Docket No. 07–52; FCC 09–93
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

 Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

 Introduction

 The Internet Freedom Coalition is an ad hoc coalition of organizations and individuals committed to the continued growth and improvement of the Internet, who believe regulations and taxes are harmful to those ends. The Internet Freedom Coalition believes that a free and open Internet is beneficial, but argues that regulatory intervention in the well-functioning marketplace that has thus far produced a vast, free and open network would unnecessarily limit the current and future supply of bandwidth, and would harm both producers and consumers. These comments are attributable only to the individual signatories.

Read More…

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