From a must-read editorial in today’s Washington Post on the perils of regulating Internet providers:
The FCC stands poised to reclassify broadband service providers as content carriers, a category that would subject them to the same sort of regulation that telephone companies are saddled with, even giving the FCC the ability to set rates. The agency’s chairman says that the FCC won’t use this power—but this could change in another administration. Such a move would be a serious step backward.
A better route would be legislative enactment of something like the Google-Verizon plan, with an emphasis on transparency about decisions that providers are making. Giving the FCC the authority to nudge things in the right direction will be a good first step. As the Internet evolves, the nature of needed oversight will evolve as well. Establishing a clearly limited power to take action against anti-competitive violations, rather than encumbering this vital sector with detailed and prescriptive regulation, is the sensible approach.