Today, as phone, video, and broadcast services have become merely bits passing over a wire, Congress’s intentions embodied in the 1996 Act have been completely subverted. Through a wave of mergers and years of litigation (helped along by some gymnastic labeling fiestas by the FCC), new companies have found it almost impossible to compete.
We have Ma Cell instead of Ma Bell, with just two companies — AT&T and Verizon — utterly dominant, their vast spectrum holdings, control over handset manufacturing, and provision of backhaul adding up to moats around their businesses that Sprint and T-Mobile can’t cross. We have a handful of cable incumbents — chiefly Comcast and Time Warner — controlling high-speed wired access to everything at whatever prices they want to charge.
Given this context, and its direct impact on consumers’ pocketbooks and innovation in America, you’d think that Congress would want to have an empowered regulator able to do something to protect the country from the rational, profit-seeking depredations of our new generation of monopolists.
Instead, the House Republicans are going in exactly the opposite direction. They’re lining up big-company support to push legislation early next week on the floor of the House that would gut the FCC. The bill, H.R. 3309, is called the “FCC Process Reform Act of 2011.”
While politicians, pundits, military, and journalists assess and debate the fallout from Wikileaks’ release of the “Afghan War Diary” – the legality and ethics of Wikileaks, its impact on the war efforts, the rise of the “world’s first stateless news organization” – a number of developers are diving right into the 91,000 some odd classified documents and seeing what they can do with the data.
Update to my previous WikiLeaks post: information is, in fact, still able to permeate even the strictest legal strangleholds. I applaud these lunies who risk life and limb to develop the code that empowers us to understand the data we pay for yet are systematically denied access to by the people we’ve put in power. Take it back!
“Any outcome, any deal that doesn’t preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters earlier today.
Finally, the FCC is no longer 1) toothless and 2) crusading for the rights of corporations.