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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Larry Lessig (Wikipedia photo)

Lessig: Abolish FCC

Larry Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society, has written an article in Newsweek entitled "Reboot the FCC". It it he argues that FCC is beyond repair and should be replaced by a whole new agency for the benefit of our whole economy.
"If history is our guide, these new (IT) technologies are at risk, and with them, everything they make possible. With so much in its reach, the FCC has become the target of enormous campaigns for influence. Its commissioners are meant to be "expert" and "independent," but they've never really been expert, and are now openly embracing the political role they play. Commissioners issue press releases touting their own personal policies. And lobbyists spend years getting close to members of this junior varsity Congress. Think about the storm around former FCC Chairman Michael Powell's decision to relax media ownership rules, giving a green light to the concentration of newspapers and television stations into fewer and fewer hands. This is policy by committee, influenced by money and power, and with no one, not even the President, responsible for its failures."
He advocates a new "Innovation Environment Protection Agency (iEPA), charged with a simple founding mission: 'minimal intervention to maximize innovation.'"

While I agree with him that the current situation at FCC is impacting a lot more than the direct regulatees who appear at its doorstep in endless nontransparent ex parte meetings, I don't agree with his oversimplistic solution. If he thinks a single administrator agency is so much more efficient than a commission, he should take a look at the current EPA. Alternatively look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA - two agencies with somewhat parallel missions. (See Washington Post article, "Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction") Bad leadership at both has doomed their effectiveness to protect the public.

I am preparing my remarks for the Silicon Flatirons "Reforming the FCC" conference next week and will discuss this more in those remarks that will be linked here as soon as they are made public.

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