Free Press: FCC Proposal a Step Toward Correcting Powell-Era Mistakes

Washington DC–(ENEWSPF)– In an interview Thursday with CNBC, former FCC Chairman Michael Powell called Chairman Julius Genachowski’s decision to change the way broadband services are treated under law "the most massive expansion of regulatory authority over the Internet ever."

But it was Powell himself in 2002 who categorized cable internet service providers as “information services” under Title I of the Communications Act, a move which not only put the FCC’s ability to protect Internet users in legal limbo, but led to America’s rapid decline as a world broadband leader. Powell is now a spokesman for the phone and cable industry front group “Broadband for America.”

Responding to Michael Powell’s comments, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said:

"It was the FCC led by Michael Powell that started this mess in the first place. In 2002, Powell said his classification move would not leave the FCC ‘neutered,’ but we now see it did exactly that. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal is designed to correct the mistakes of the Powell and Martin FCCs and bring the regulatory framework back into harmony with the law.

"This is not about the FCC regulating the Internet.  Content and applications on the Internet will remain unregulated – this is about light-touch rules on physical access providers to protect Internet users. Congress always intended for Internet content to be treated differently from Internet access, and it was Powell’s misguided attempts to carry out his deregulatory agenda that resulted in the law becoming unworkable.

"Powell’s focus on Network Neutrality in yesterday’s comments is downright disingenuous in light of the fact that there is widespread agreement among many observers, if not among his clients, that the Comcast case puts many key broadband policy goals on shaky ground — including achieving universal and affordable access to broadband. If Powell supported ‘broadband for America’ as a policy, not just a slogan, he would welcome the reclassification of broadband proposed by Genachowski as a necessary step toward achieving that goal."

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