Millennials Stand to Lose if the Feds Control the Internet

[Commentary] Since assuming leadership of the Federal Communications Commission earlier in 2017, Ajit Pai has been working to roll back the stifling Obama-era rules to return the power of the internet back to consumers and the public. This will benefit everybody, but this is particularly personal for millennials and young consumers who have grown up online and are driving much of the innovation that we see in Silicon Valley. Tumblr, Mashable and Snapchat are just a handful of the many tech companies that millennials have helped start that are changing the way we live. But if bureaucrats and special interest groups have their way, the government will control the internet and pick winners and losers.

Younger consumers want a better, faster, cheaper internet – and a one-size-fits-all regulation that reflects the world of the 1930s is not the answer.

[David Barnes is the policy director of Generation Opportunity.]

Infrastructure Is Not Just Roads and Bridges

[Commentary] When politicians talk about infrastructure, people generally think of roads and bridges. But these are just a part of the nation’s infrastructure, and not necessarily the most important part for millions of poor and working-class Americans who have limited access to public transportation, broadband and even clean water.

If we’re going to talk about how infrastructure can get America back to work, President Trump needs to think beyond concrete and steel spans. Only 62 percent of rural Americans have access to high-speed internet. Imagine what that means to a high school student applying to college or a small-business owner trying to connect with customers. Without investment in these critical systems, millions of families are barred from a shot at the American dream — and our economy loses valuable talent from the work force. While the nation’s unemployment rate is low, at 4.3 percent, joblessness remains a challenge for many, especially people of color and those living in isolated neighborhoods. Most infrastructure jobs do not require college degrees and they pay above-average wages, offering a path to economic mobility. What should President Trump do about these issues? Successful models exist. Increasing broadband access would help people throughout the country, especially in rural communities. We’re leaving those communities behind by refusing to adequately invest in the modern-day infrastructure they need.

[Angela Glover Blackwell is the chief executive of PolicyLink, a research and advocacy group focused on racial and economic equity.]

Basic Rules of the Road Are Needed to Protect an Open Internet

[Commentary] Net neutrality debates can devolve quickly into talk of statutory “titles” and legal jargon. When that happens, the practical issues at the heart of these debates can get lost. Throughout all this, however, the nation’s rural broadband providers have focused on one primary and practical concern: the chaos that could ensue in the absence of any “rules of the road” with respect to how rural America connects with the rest of the world. Where does this concern come from? Why would rural America be particularly at risk without basic rules of the road? Well, we’ve seen this play out before in the traditional telecom context. Over the past decade, telephone calls destined for consumers and businesses in rural America have failed all too often because it wasn’t worth the time, effort or cost for some routers to make sure calls complete. I shudder to think what would have happened if the Federal Communications Commission lacked authority to address these concerns when consumers began reporting them years ago. Fortunately, the FCC had the authority in that context to adopt and enforce rules to make sure data flows across networks without interruption, delay or neglect. Whatever title the country lands on in this latest spin of the net neutrality wheel, we cannot abandon rules altogether. There’s a balance to be struck. We must focus on the practical goals and substantive outcomes of this debate: making sure that universal service is sustained and that there’s recourse if small rural providers and their customers are shut out or face massive new and unreasonable costs in today’s and tomorrow’s connected world. As long as practical goals like these remain firmly in the headlights, and as long as the framework adopted is legally sustainable, the exact vehicle we use to get there is of secondary importance.

[Bloomfield is chief executive officer of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association]

Reverse Obama’s Net-Neutrality Power Grab

[Commentary] The Federal Communication Commission’s recent vote to begin the process of undoing an Obama-era power grab is the right solution for putting consumers—not lobbyists and lawmakers—in the innovation driver’s seat.

By getting government out of the business of telling ISPs how to run their servers, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is working hard to undo net neutrality, putting consumers back in charge of how the internet—and the businesses responsible for building and maintaining the countless millions of internet connections and switches powering the internet—should operate. Decades of internet and networking innovation, enabled by the government’s earlier hands-off approach, has slowed to a crawl because of Wheeler’s rule, but Pai’s quest to reduce regulations on internet providers and other telecommunications companies could once again get government out of the way and turbocharge consumers’ internet experience.

[Hathaway is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute]

What dismantling net neutrality means for small and mid-sized businesses

[Commentary] Few think about the implications of network neutrality outside of affecting the speed at which one can browse the internet; however, it also influences what you can watch and the online content you can view. Net neutrality is what allows us the freedom to peruse the internet and disseminate content without interference.

Besides affecting personal use, the fate of net neutrality also has a bearing on businesses -- particularly small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Without net neutrality, companies like Netflix would probably be charged an exorbitant amount due to the amount of data needed to stream video at their current speed. These upcharges would then be passed down to the customer. Without net neutrality, you can even expect currently free platforms like YouTube to enact charges or impose more ads. Net neutrality is crucial for the survival of SMBs: without it, the recent bloom of entrepreneurship and startup culture would shrivel up and die. They rely on open internet to, among other things, launch their businesses, advertise, build a community and build a customer base.

Media Consolidation Is a Threat to Democracy

[Commentary] Media consolidation is a threat to our republic. The Federal Communications Commission and members of Congress who oversee the FCC are supposed to protect localism. The FCC gives away free licenses to use the public airways. In return, those licensees promise to address the local needs of the community. But do they?

In 2018, we will have a chance to elect members of Congress who understand this, are ready and willing to make sure that whatever favors FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gives to the Sinclairs of our country are stopped cold and that the FCC begins to serve the public, not the big donors.

[Mark Lloyd is a clinical professor of communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Previously Mr. Lloyd has been the General Counsel of the Benton Foundation.]

The new FCC can only do so much; keeping the internet free requires legislation

[Commentary] What America needs is clear, consistent, and sustainable internet policy. That can only come through legislation. We need a diligent rewriting of the 21-year-old act that guides telecommunication and internet policy. At the time of the law’s passage, there were just 13 million internet users in the United States. Today, there are 287 million.

The new telecom and internet law doesn’t have to be long and complicated, but it does have to be comprehensive. It has to enshrine the Clinton-era principles into law. It’s time to remove any ambiguity about whether the internet’s infrastructure is a public utility. It should not be. Competition and light-touch regulation built the internet, and they should keep on building it.

[Glassman was a former president of The Atlantic, publisher of The New Republic, executive vice president of US News & World Report, and editor-in-chief and co-owner of Roll Call.]

It would be a mistake for Congress to prohibit targeted advertising online

[Commentary] On its face, the BROWSER Act seems like pro-consumer privacy legislation. But it’s actually an awful deal for Americans who’ve come to depend on free online content and services.

The BROWSER Act would disallow interest-based ads by default. In doing so, the act would erase $340 billion in advertising revenue from American websites over the next five years. That’s because the Act requires users to opt-in to interest-based advertising and studies have shown that such an opt-in regime reduces online ads’ effectiveness by 65 percent. Some might initially celebrate this change. But celebration will change to mourning when they realize the price we’ll be paying when websites lose all this ad revenue.

[Carl Szabo is senior policy counsel for NetChoice, a trade association of eCommerce businesses including AOL, Facebook, and 21st Century Fox.]

FCC Kidvid Rule: What is Your Function?

[Commentary] After 20 years, it's time to reconsider the Federal Communications Commission guideline effectively requiring TV stations to air three hours of educational and informational children programming each week. If it cannot be demonstrated that such programming is effective, the intrusion on broadcasters' First Amendment rights cannot be justified.

[Jack Goodman practices communications law in Washington. He was previously general counsel of the National Association of Broadcasters]

Michael Moore: Why I’m Launching TrumpiLeaks

[Commentary] Today, I’m launching TrumpiLeaks, a site that will enable courageous whistleblowers to privately communicate with me and my team. Patriotic Americans in government, law enforcement or the private sector with knowledge of crimes, breaches of public trust and misconduct committed by Donald J. Trump and his associates are needed to blow the whistle in the name of protecting the United States of America from tyranny. I know this is risky. I knew we may get in trouble. But too much is at stake to play it safe. And along with the Founding Fathers, I’ve got your back.

[Michael Moore is an Oscar and Emmy award-winning director]