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

by Mike Wendy on 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 by two members of the FCC’s transition team – represents “a declaration of war on the most basic principles of universal service, consumer protection, competition, and public safety that have been the bipartisan core of the Communications Act for the last 80+ years.”

Did they even bother to read the short paper before wigging-out?

Put away the pitchforks, Harold.

Using the paper’s own words:

First, the historical silo-based approach to communications regulation is inapposite to the modern communications ecosystem. Second, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC,” or “Commission”) functions are largely duplicative of those of other agencies. It is therefore our view that Congress should revise the approach taken by the Communications Act, eliminate the silo-based structure and replace it with a technology-neutral, competition-oriented approach. Concurrent with this process, Congress should rationalize the Commission, apportioning the majority of its functions and resources to its sister agencies. In particular, Congress should consider merging the FCC’s competition and consumer protection functions with those of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), thus combining the FCC’s industry expertise and capabilities with the generic statutory authority of the FTC. More broadly, it is our view that many of the important functions and resources currently housed in the Commission can be redeployed – not eliminated – to yield a more coherent and streamlined regulatory edifice that would more effectively serve the goals of consumers, competitors, and Congress.

According to the paper, doing so would:

Rationalize and strengthen competition oversight and consumer protection regulation.

Eliminate the duplication, confusion, and cost associated with multiple regulatory agencies with
overlapping jurisdictions.

Reduce the regulatory burden on industry in complying with outdated rules and duplicative
obligations.

Clarify consumer protection procedures with one point of contact for complaints and redress.

Facilitate efficient development of evidenced-based policies that promote innovation throughout the Internet ecosystem, enhance economic growth, and maximize consumer welfare.

The Comm Act is an octogenarian.  No simple face-lift or botox can change its creaky bones; it can’t keep up with converged markets using its regulatory walker built in 1934.

America voted for Donald Trump, not FDR. It’s time to move on and make our administrative state great (or certainly better) for American consumers and innovators.  The transition team’s congressional plan – if even close to what’s been reported – would go a long way towards doing that.

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