Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

FCC, FTC Bosses Pen Misleading Washington Post Editorial

Karl Bode of Techdirt tears apart this entirely dishonest editorial jointly written by FCC chair Ajit Pai and FTC chair Maureen Ohlhausen:

Of course, there’s something else the pair intentionally and comically avoid talking about in their treatise. And that’s the fact that to gut FCC authority over broadband and shovel it back to an already-overburdened FTC, regulators need to roll back the Title II reclassification of ISPs as common carriers — and by proxy the nation’s net neutrality rules. Pai and Ohlhausen don’t even utter the phrase “net neutrality” in their missive, knowing all-too-well that they’d be laughed out of town if they didn’t try to hide their real objective under a parade of half-truths and prattle.

But make no mistake, this pretense that we need to shift broadband regulatory oversight back to the FTC because it provides a more “consistent regulatory environment” is a transparently self-serving, telecom industry-concocted canard — and the opening salvo in what will be the death of net neutrality protections if we don’t start paying closer attention.

The way Pai and Ohlhausen frame their editorial is that, by classifying ISPs as common carriers, the big bad Obama administration necessarily moved privacy protections from the FTC to the FCC, and somehow reduced those privacy restrictions in the process. That’s not true, as Bode explains, but their framing implies that privacy should be handled by the FTC alone and, to do that, ISPs should not be classified as common carriers.

Of course, ISPs aren’t just providing internet access any more — they own the media pipeline. Reducing regulatory oversight — particularly by rescinding their common carrier status — will only make this problem worse.