Biden’s Plan for ‘Digital Equity’ Will Soon Lead to Government Micromanaging ‘Nearly Every Aspect’ of the Internet, FCC Commissioner Warns
‘In the guise of “digital equity,” President Biden has called for the FCC to exercise a degree of control over Internet services and infrastructure that we have never seen before,’ an FCC commissioner tells the Sun.
The Biden administration may soon implement sweeping regulations that would give it control of the internet, analysts are warning ahead of the Federal Communications Commission’s November 15 vote on the proposed rules.
“In the guise of ‘digital equity,’ President Biden has called for the FCC to exercise a degree of control over Internet services and infrastructure that we have never seen before,” an FCC commissioner, Brendan Carr, tells the Sun in an email.
“It will give the Administrative State the power to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the Internet works,” he adds. “These types of command and control regulations will only make it harder for Internet infrastructure and services to be built out and could make our networks look more like the sluggish networks that consumers in Europe have to deal with.”
The Democratic-controlled FCC says the new rules would “prevent discrimination in access to broadband services based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, and national origin.”
“We recognize that the ultimate goal of this proceeding is to facilitate equal access to broadband just as the law says,” the FCC chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, says.
Yet the rules, which would regulate internet service providers’ infrastructure, network maintenance and upgrades, speeds, use of customer credit and account history, and more, read like “a planning document drawn up in the faculty lounge of a university’s Soviet Studies Department,” Mr. Carr said in a statement earlier this week.
“Never before, in the roughly 40-year history of the public Internet, has the FCC (or any federal agency for that matter) claimed this degree of control over it,” Mr. Carr adds.
The rules promise to expand the FCC’s reach beyond typical communications industries, Mr. Carr notes, covering construction crews, banks, marketing firms, and other government agencies.
The FCC says the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Mr. Biden signed in 2021, requires the agency to “‘prevent’ and identify necessary steps to ‘eliminate’ digital discrimination.”
Yet Mr. Carr contends the regulatory regime is far beyond “the one-page section” of the Infrastructure Act.
“Congress never contemplated the sweeping regulatory regime that President Biden asked the FCC to adopt — let alone authorized the agency to implement it,” he says.
The rules don’t reflect the “next generation of satellite internet, mobile wifi, 5G, and more,” an analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, Elizabeth Hicks, tells the Sun. The rules will also be burdensome and costly to abide by, she says.
“Congress never contemplated or authorized the FCC to implement the sweeping regulatory regime that President Biden is asking for,” she says, adding that it isn’t stopping the FCC from voting to put the rules in place. The new rules would harm consumers by making a bad internet situation even worse, she adds.
“Considering government and bureaucratic red tape is slowing down and even preventing broadband buildouts, giving the government more authority and control to overregulate ISPs is equivalent to adding gasoline to a dumpster fire,” she says.
The Biden administration should instead be eliminating government barriers that slow down internet service by creating a more competitive and free market, she says.
“We need more technology, more investment, and more competition, but that will come from the bottom-up, and from innovators, rather than Washington, D.C.,” Ms. Hicks adds.
FCC representatives did not return a request by the Sun for comment.