IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Monday, May 24, 2010

 
Thoughts on Democratic Proposal to Update Communications Act
(previous | next)
 

I was very pleased to hear this announcement today from leading Senate and House Democrats regarding a much-needed update of our nation's communications laws:

Today, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Senator John F. Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Rep. Rick Boucher, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet announced they will start a process to develop proposals to update the Communications Act. As the first step, they will invite stakeholders to participate in a series of bipartisan, issue-focused meetings beginning in June. A list of topics for discussion and details about this process will be forthcoming.

This is great news, and an implicit acknowledgment by top Democratic leaders that the FCC most certainly does not have the authority to move forward unilaterally with regulatory proposals such as Net neutrality mandates or Title II reclassification efforts.

I very much look forward to engaging with House and Senate staff on these issues since this is something I've spent a great deal of time thinking about over the past 15 years. Most recently, Mike Wendy and I released a paper entitled, "The Constructive Alternative to Net Neutrality Regulation and Title II Reclassification Wars," in which we outline some of the possible reform options out there. We built upon PFF's "Digital Age Communications Act Project," (DACA) which was introduced in February of 2005 with the ultimate aim of crafting policy that is adaptive to the frequently changing communications landscape. You can find all the white papers from the 5 major working groups here. I also encourage those interested in this issue to take a look at the video from this event we hosted earlier this month asking, "What Should the Next Communications Act Look Like?" Lots of good ideas came up there.

Anyway, down below I have included the video from that event as well as a better description of the DACA model for those interested in details about how that model of Communications Act reform would work. I think DACA holds great promise going forward since it represents a moderate, non-partisan approach to reforming communications policy for the better. I pulled this summary from the paper that Mike Wendy and I recently penned:

In 2005-06, The Progress & Freedom Foundation brought together over 50 scholars--a nonpartisan collection of lawyers, economists, engineers and other experts--with the ultimate aim of crafting a new regulatory framework more appropriate for a frequently-changing communications landscape. The resulting Digital Age Communications Act (DACA) project proposed scraping the old regulatory "silos" (Title II for telecom, Title III for broadcast, Title VI for cable) and replacing them all with a Federal Trade Commission-like "unfair competition" standard. Under DACA, the FCC would retain some baseline regulatory authority to oversee the marketplace, but this authority would be limited and based upon more settled principles of competition law and economics--essentially, streamlined antitrust regulation. Serious anticompetitive actions that lead to demonstrable consumer harm would still be policed and punished under this model. But this would be done on a limited, case-by-case basis without prejudging business models or practices or by imposing prophylactic regulatory regimes.

In essence, DACA stood for the proposition that an ex post approach to regulatory oversight was preferable to ex ante forms of preemptive and prophylactic regulation by the FCC. Indeed, the DACA model was based on a model we already have in place: antitrust laws and the adjudicatory process administered by the Federal Trade Commission. The DACA experts, therefore, advocated not that the FCC be abolished, but that an FTC-like enforcement model be imported into the FCC.

To be clear, this is regulation. In fact, when the DACA working group released its initial framework in June 2005, some critiqued the plan on the grounds that it did not do enough to tie the hands of regulators. Others argued that there was no need to import a competition policy regime into the FCC when the FTC and Department of Justice remain perfectly capable of enforcing antitrust laws where anti-competitive conduct can be proven. While those concerns are understandable, they're also not very practical. Scrapping the FCC is untenable, especially since the FCC still engages in some sector-specific forms of regulation (spectrum standards, interconnection mandates, universal service administration, etc.) that Congress would likely insist remain within the hands of a sector-specific regulator. Nonetheless, the DACA framework would be vastly superior to the sort of heavy-handed regulatory approach currently on the books, or the even stricter "Mother, may I?" approach that some Net Neutrality proponents favor. DACA has the added advantage of not being as susceptible to the problems of regulatory creep and regulatory capture.



posted by Adam Thierer @ 7:34 PM | Communications , DACA , PFF , The FCC

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Comments

Post a Comment:





 
Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- DACA
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.
 










The Progress & Freedom Foundation