Broadband

Larry Downes: Title II Disrupts the Disruptors

Policy analyst says general-conduct standard preempts innovation 7/17/2017 1:13 PM Eastern
Larry Downes

Larry Downes, project director of the Evolution of Regulation and Innovation project at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, said the FCC should reclassify internet access as an information service and jettison the vague general-conduct standard, both of which FCC chair Ajit Pai has proposed doing.

Downes said in comments on the FCC's Title II rollback item that the Title II classification was less about consumer harms and more about political expediency and "rent-seeking" by the competitors to ISPs.

But Downes focused his comments on the FCC's request for input on the risks of Title II to innovation, citing four ways in which the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order -- which was based on Title II -- damages the kind of disruptive innovation that characterizes entrepreneurship:
(1) The order slowed the pace of innovation;

(2) Utility-based rules were designed for companies that don't compete or innovate;

(3) The "know it when we see it" vagueness of the general-conduct standard trumps permissionless innovation with preemptive regulation; and

(4) The order "dangerously" skews innovation in network management and architecture.

"Undoing reclassification will once again permit maximum innovation with the lowest possible risk of unintended consequences from well-intentioned but inherently slower and costly regulatory interventions," while restoring jurisdiction to the Federal Trade Commission, Downes said.

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