aNewDomain — Now that Donald Trump has been elected President, the Internet community is understandably worried.
The big fear is that Trump will reverse the FCC’s official stance on net neutrality
After all, Trump now has tapped lobbyist Jeffrey Eisenach, an opponent of regulation, as his telecommunication “point man.” This is the same guy who made strong arguments against net neutrality before the U.S. Senate back in September 2014. In his testimony, Eisenach said:
“First, net neutrality regulation cannot be justified on grounds of enhancing consumer welfare or protecting the public interest. Rather, it is best understood as an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another – a classic example of what economists term “rent seeking.” Second, the potential costs of net neutrality regulation are both sweeping and severe, and extend far beyond a simple transfer of wealth from one group to another. Third, legitimate policy concerns about the potential use of market power to disadvantage rivals or harm consumers can best be addressed through existing antitrust and consumer protection laws and regulations.”
Scroll down to read Eisenach’s testimony in full. -Ed.
No wonder proponents of net neutrality, which aims to ensure ISPs and governments treat all Internet content equally and not favor certain postings over others, are getting nervous.
Current net neutrality rules, which a court upheld earlier this year, say ISPs like AT&T and Comcast to block any types of content in favor of email traffic or charge website owners money to make sure their content is favored over others. Those rules, observers say, could be wiped out by an Eisenbach-populated FCC.
“Net neutrality has a big target on its back,” telecom analyst Robert Kaminski told The Washington Post a few days ago.
And if you watched closely during the presidential campaign, you know why he thinks so.
For one thing, Trump badmouthed net neutrality as a “top down power grab” during the run-up to the election.
That view is consistent, certainly, with Trump’s promise to get rid of red tape and regulation and let big business do its thing. On the other hand, he has also pledged to fight the elites in support or average Americans, which is exactly the goal of net neutrality.
Trump’s choice of Eisenach, I should note, isn’t that unique in the scheme of things, though.
In May 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama tapped Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communication Commission. Because Wheeler had been a lobbyist for both the cellular and cable industries, the Internet community criticized the appointment. Then, when the President was spotted playing golf with Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast, it all seemed like a Washington insider deal.
But in the end, Wheeler came out in support of the public interest, not Internet service providers. He supported net neutrality, but not only that: He raised the speed used to define “broadband,” fought to curb state legislature’s power to stop municipal broadband, and pushed for a standard TV-interface box, favored spectrum sharing and, even, advocated more scrutiny regarding transit Internet agreements.
For aNewDomain, I’m Larry Press.
A version of this story ran on Larry Press’ site, CIS471. Read it here.