Last week, the Federal Communications Commission took a both interesting and short sighted step in trying to get its hands around creating a new guidance for this country's Internet users both now and in our future.
In a 3-2 vote, the FCC approved
placing our modern, high-speed Internet systems under control of 1934 public utility regulations collectively known as "Title II." These rules, designed to manage the rotary telephone system, will now be used to regulate the way we Skype, chat, use social media, stream music, and everything else we do online.
Perhaps more importantly, the inherent problems of regulating the Internet as a utility will be felt on the most important medical advance in generations: development of Internet-based health systems. These emerging online products have the potential to dramatically expand our access to quality, affordable healthcare - but only if our Internet is up to the task.
Placing our high-speed wired and wireless Internet under federal utility regulations will place a huge burden on the growing mHealth technology market that is becoming more and more essential for patients all over the country.
And there is still much to accomplish in expanding high speed Internet access to rural and other underserved areas to ensure more people have quality access to mHealth apps. Do we really want the quality of our Internet service to resemble the quality of the nation's roadways?
The Internet is too important to have such a vital governance decision made by three unelected officials. America's ability to develop and deploy the best, fastest and most capable Internet systems have proliferated because innovators were allowed to innovate and start-ups had the freedom to bring us the Internet we love and enjoy today, without unnecessary government intrusion.
Federal officials seemed to have taken a short sighted view by now allowing our thriving Internet infrastructure to fall under slow moving bureaucratic management. The Internet is too dynamic and changes too rapidly for federal micromanagement, particularly one that opens the door to $11 billion in new taxes on consumers
It's perfectly acceptable - in fact, desirable - for Congress to ensure that Internet users can access their choice of legal websites and apps without interference.
Title II has also proven in the past to bring a great amount of uncertainty to the marketplace. When there is uncertainty in the telecom sphere, many companies are will hesitate to invest and build out the infrastructure we need to bring high-speed Internet networks to all Americans.
The irony in all of this is that it now falls back on the Congress to take action and bring some much-needed consumer protection and legal clarity to this vital part of our economy.
I know many folks will not believe it but I think and want to believe that both smart and bipartisan solutions can help Congress to address this issue. Our Internet thrives because it has the freedom to create.
They have both the authority and the responsibility to assert its authority under the Telecommunications Act to ensure all Americans, regardless of who they are where they live, have access to a 21st century Internet infrastructure.