FCC takes first step towards making the Internet a “public utility”

End run around the U.S. Court of Appeals

Ed Morrissey

Certain monopoly services get classified as “public utilities” and regulated as such on the federal, state, or local level as a consequence of the concession granted by government to supply the monopolized service or product. Electricity, water, natural gas, and until recently local telephone and cable services were usually classified as public utilities and regulated by government. Now, however, the Federal Communications Commission wants to classify the decentralized Internet as a public utility, as FCC chair Julius Genachowski tries to get around a Supreme Court ruling blocking his Net Neutrality ambitions:

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to take another step toward reclassifying the way it regulates Internet service providers, releasing a plan for public comment that would give the federal agency vast new powers over companies that distribute Web access.

“The FCC has an obligation to move forward with an open, constructive public comment process to ask hard questions, build a record, find a solution and resolve the uncertainty that has been created,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The 3-2 vote comes on the heels of a unanimous April ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that said the FCC had overstepped its authority when the federal agency sanctioned Comcast for slowing some Internet traffic within its networks. The FCC has since made efforts to find new ways to regulate the industry that fall within the confines of the law.

The FCC currently classifies Internet service providers — namely AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — as information services, leaving them largely exempt from regulation. The vote today is the first step toward re-classifying the companies to a new and more restrictive category within the FCC code.

Americans for Prosperity have begun sounding the alarm with a new effort at NoInternetTakeover.com, with this press release and a video warning Internet users of the danger of a government takeover…

…Over 300 members of Congress may object, but Genachowski is only following the example of Democratic leadership there.  They had attempted an end run around the Citizens United case by pushing the DISCLOSE Act, which got pulled late last night.  Why shouldn’t Genachowski take a page from Nancy Pelosi’s playbook and try the same thing?  The other two Democratic appointees to the FCC’s board fell in line quickly…

Read the rest at HotAir.com

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