In a letter of response to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave probably his most concise and powerful defense of the Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.
First, he pointed out how bipartisan, light touch regulation from 1996 through early 2015 allowed the internet to “grow startups into global giants,” and make “America’s internet economy…the envy of the world.”
He continued, saying that the Ma Bell era Type II regulatory regime introduced in 2015 was a “mistake,” because “there was no problem to solve. The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia.” In fact, “the internet had been a stunning success.”
Since there was no problem in the first place, “this ‘solution’ didn’t work. The main complaint consumers have about the internet is not and never has been that their…provider is blocking access to content. It’s that they don’t have access at all to enough competition between providers.”
The recent return to the lighter touch Title I regulatory framework accomplishes the dual goals of “helping consumers and promoting competition. Broadband providers now have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in unserved areas, and to upgrade networks to gigabit speeds and 50G.”
The order “promotes more robust transparency among ISPs than existed three years ago. It requires (them) to disclose a variety of business practices, and the failure to do so subjects them to enforcement action. Moreover, we have reestablished the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to ensure that consumers and competition are protected.”
Addressing continuing criticism of how the FCC reached its decision, Chairman Pai assured the Congresswoman that “the Commission does not make policy decisions merely by tallying the comments on either side of the proposal. Nor does (it)attribute greater weight to comments based on the submitter’s identity.”
On the never-ending Democrat suspicions, accusations and innuendo concerning Russian interference, he said, “I understand (your)…concerns about the comments …from a single address in Russia. Please be assured that these comments in favor of Title II did not raise any substantive arguments not otherwise addressed. Activity like this did not affect the Commission’s actual decision-making.”
“In short, it’s a freer and more open internet. Americans are still able to access the websites they want to visit. They still are able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy. There is still regulation, and regulators guarding a (now far more) free and open internet.”
We think Chairman Pai touched all the bases.