A 21st century celebration of the Communications Act

Tomorrow is the 21st anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. It’s an opportunity to to review the Act for its relevance to the converged world of communications, content, and computing. Indeed, updating the Act enjoyed wide support three years ago, when a broad array of stakeholders participated in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s “#CommActUpdate” process through a series of thought papers on regulatory modernization, spectrum policy, competition, interconnection, universal service, and video content and distribution.  This rational, inclusive, and orderly process collected hundreds of substantive responses until it was hijacked by advocacy groups which aimed to  nationalize networks by reclassifying broadband network providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This was a beginning step by the FCC to tax and regulate the internet like the telephone network and to limit free speech, which fortunately has been halted by a backlash of 60 million voters against over-regulation.