When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted December 14 to repeal the rules protecting a fast, fair, and open internet, the lobbyists for the internet service providers realized their long-envisioned strategy to gut the authority of the agency that since 1934 has been charged with overseeing the activities of the nation’s essential networks.
“Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.
The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.