The Democrats and their progressive supporters held a “fake news” event last week to shriek about the new FCC and their fears that the agency will rollback their out-of-touch, FDR-era Net Neutrality law.

At the event, Senator Richard Blumenthal decried:

“Allowing a broadband provider to block or discriminate against certain content providers is not only a threat to the continued success of America’s innovators and job-creators, it is also a danger to free speech—one of the core principles of our democracy—at a time when so many of our First Amendment rights are threatened.”

Let’s get this straight. ISPs aren’t in the business of willy-nilly blocking communications services unless customers want it, reasonable network management calls for it, or if it’s lawful to do so. It’s never been their schtick. The record establishing the Net Neutrality Order is virtually bereft of this behavior, and present “Net Neutrality complaints” lodged at the Commission on blocking are reportedly nonexistent.

What ISPs do want to do is to reasonably curate, discriminate and differentiate their offerings for those purchasing their services. Among other things, that means prioritizing services – like for healthcare, security and entertainment – for willing customers. Such reasonable discrimination was allowed under legacy Title II, natural monopoly regulations – as with Ma Bell’s telephone network. The Net Neutrality Order, however, conveniently reads that out of the new rule, willfully blind to eight decades-worth of communications law precedent.

Though Silicon Valley sure gets a nice subsidy, the law is wholly at odds with practices used in, and demanded by, the broader economy.

The FCC must allow reasonable service discrimination and differentiation for ISPs, benefitting consumers and society.

Reasonable discrimination, differentiation, blocking, priority service, curation, etc. are necessary tools used by every single organization in America to derive benefit for users. The Post Office. Airlines. Supermarkets. Highway system. Utility companies. Schools. Libraries. Newspapers. The entertainment industry. Broadcast TV and radio. Silicon Valley. Etc., etc., etc. They all use these practices. In fact, they could not survive without them.

And, you know what? Free speech has thrived as a result, too.

It is in the interest of people like Senator Blumenthal to conflate positive economic discrimination with negative societal discrimination. He knows they are not the same. But it sure drives headlines and campaign support.

The real questions here are:  What’s reasonable service discrimination and differentiation, and how does law and policy grow that? There should be tons of it at all points in the Internet ecosystem so that consumers and society benefit.

Banning it – as Net Neutrality / Title II has – serves no legitimate purpose other than to be a handout to Silicon Valley and the type of people who hold “fake news” events for harmful laws.

The new FCC must repeal the anti-consumer, economy-bashing law as soon as possible.

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Yesterday, the FCC closed the dubious investigation into popular zero-rated offerings.

According to Commissioner Mike O’Rielly:

Today, the Commission finally puts an end to the past Commission’s zero-rating inquiries and recommits to permissionless innovation. While this is just a first step, these companies, and others, can now safely invest in and introduce highly popular products and services without fear of Commission intervention based on newly invented legal theories.

This does not mean that if the popular plans somehow harm consumers they can’t be addressed. The tools – marketplace and governmental – are readily available to do that if need be.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (left) and Commissioner Mike O’reilly (right) presiding over the first Trump-era FCC open meeting earlier this week.

What it does mean is that the Commission is letting the public determine what the “public interest” is. Further, it looks like the new FCC has started rehabbing the agency’s more troubling monopolistic tendencies by eliminating some of its false scarcity / restricted output tactics. More often than not, these practices lift prices, limit services and thwart innovation – all of which harm consumers, not help them.

Hopefully more such pro-consumer changes are in the offing.

But not all are happy. Notes Wired:

The problem is that as appealing as free stuff might seem now, zero-rating could harm innovation long-term.

As Wired (and Net Neutrality supporters see it), evil always lingers somewhere off in the deep dark distance and is ready to mercilessly pounce at a moment’s notice. Of course, only government can protect us from it, no matter that it created the evil in the first place – a classic regulatory Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy behavior.

Let’s be clear, those that want restrictions on zero-rating (and so much more) via FDR-era utility regulation are anti-consumer. Arbitrary limits such as these are a false economy (or, dare I say, a lie).

The FCC is now finally becoming pro-consumer. Hooray! Keep it up, guys.

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The New FCC to Humbly Serve

by Mike Wendy on January 27, 2017

Brief addendum: If you didn’t already know it by reading this blog, I think Ajit Pai is going to be a good FCC Chairman. He represents the polar opposite of the last Commission’s activist, crony-focused, sky-is-falling MO. As I see it (and hope for), his Commission will take a more optimistic approach to regulating (or not) the U.S. communications landscape – it being more apt to incentivize the attainment of important goals than punishing them into being. Where gaps remain, I see his FCC advocating for focused and cost-effective assistance from public and private actors to help provide alternatives to broken markets, or consumers who experience demonstrable harm. Evidenced-based decision-making – instead of economics-free “reasoning” – should prevail.  In this regard, I see the agency eschewing pessimistic regulatory defaults, while at the same time nimbly (and smartly) addressing harms if and when they occur. As with any change in leadership, new ways of addressing the agency’s affairs will occur.  That said, I expect that these changes will work in favor of, not against, average consumers, whatever institutional or process forms they take.  Rural America, Main Street, the inner city, and communities that are disadvantaged will be lifted up by his more humble approach to oversight and regulation.

To be sure, the new FCC will likely let the market and its entrepreneurs breathe more freely, and use its limited authority to follow policy established by Congress – not that whipped-up by a captured majority of unelected bureaucrats – to serve the “public interest.”  Of course, that center-weighted balance is what America voted for in November.  I believe Chairman Pai’s FCC represents a faith in Americans, and the decisions they make, not evinced in the previous eight years of governance.

One trusts the new FCC and Chairman Pai will not let us down.

Main Street, all America, will benefit with Ajit Pai’s FCC.

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The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org:

New FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai.

Alexandria, VA, January 24, 2017 – Yesterday it was officially announced that sitting FCC Commisisoner Ajit Pai is the agency’s new Chairman. This is an excellent choice. Pai is one of the most knowledgable, respected and fair-minded communications experts in the industry. He has served government at all levels, and knows where Washington works, and, most importantly, where it doesn’t.  We believe this experience means he’s up to the task of making the FCC a more lean, disciplined and consumer-friendly institution, which serves all Americans – not solely favored cronies.

MediaFreedom stands ready to help Chairman Pai, the FCC and the Trump Administration make communications policy, and the results therefrom, great again.

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So-Called FCC Silo-Busting Plan Would Be a Boon to Consumers

January 17, 2017

The Left is in full freakout mode regarding reports that Donald Trump’s FCC transition team appears to be recommending “stripping” the Commission of its competition and consumer protection powers after Trump takes office. People like Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld say the plan – which ostensibly shares many similarities with a paper written two years ago […]

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FCC’s Zero Rating Report Reveals Rogue Agency as Less Than Zero for Consumers

January 12, 2017

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org: Alexandria, VA, January 12, 2017 – Yesterday, the FCC’s wireless bureau released a report, which concluded that some popular zero-rated (a.k.a. free data) wireless offerings could, maybe, perhaps somehow, harm consumers and “competition” somewhere, in some time warp, down the road. The bureau’s […]

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Obama’s Net Neutrality Rule Cost American Taxpayers up to $4.16 BILLION to Develop and Enact

January 10, 2017

The other day in The Hill, John Davis – an ostensibly well-connected IT contractor who wants to help the federal government manage its data during rulemakings – claimed: “…it ended up taking nine months and an estimated $50 million for the FCC to consider the entire [Net Neutrality] comment dataset…” (emphasis and brackets added by […]

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Eisenach Was Right – Net Neutrality Regulates the Entire Internet

December 26, 2016

Passing Net Neutrality in a way that was not offensive to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs always depended on ensuring that the law “wouldn’t regulate the Internet.” Here are a couple of examples, taken from when Julius Genachowski and his partisan Commissioners jammed Net Neutrality down the Internet’s throat in late 2010: An FCC official / spokesman […]

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We Should Applaud Facebook’s (Unwise) Censorship

December 17, 2016

Press reports have it that in Facebook’s efforts to crack down on so-called “fake news,” the company will be outsourcing “fake news” “fact checking” (two loaded terms) to a consortium of mainstream news outlets led by the left-leaning Poynter institute. That’s fine, even if it means that the real goal is to silence disruptive (i.e., […]

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Twitter Scores a Touchdown, but Net Neutrality Keeps ISPs at the 20-Yard Line

December 11, 2016

Did you watch the Raiders-Chiefs game on Twitter on Thursday night? Sure, it was available on TV and via other paid online venues. But, if you can’t get over-the-air TV, or don’t pay for online NFL games, Twitter got it to you – likely on your convenient smartphone – with a great picture, and for […]

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