Friday, May 7, 2010

Small Business Group Bemoans Federal Intrusion on the Internet

/PRNewswire/ -- Despite the fact that Congress has not given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to regulate the Internet, along with a recent court decision informing the government agency that it exceeded its regulatory boundaries in trying to do so, the FCC announced that it will move forward with intrusive and risky rules that hurt innovation, the economy and small business. According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), such federal government intrusion dictating how the Internet operates will suffocate innovation, chill investment, and erode U.S. competitiveness. Moreover, Internet regulation undermines two crucial goals of the Obama Administration - accelerating the pace of economic recovery, and making broadband available for every American who wants access.

Commenting on the FCC's fixation to control the workings of the Internet where no problem exists, SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan said: "I cannot tell you how disappointed and concerned we are that the federal government has decided to intrude into an area where creativity, capital and freedom have joined to produce unprecedented gains and opportunities for the individual, society, entrepreneurs and our economy. We are particularly troubled because the FCC has not offered any compelling evidence that an 'Open Internet' has been compromised. In fact, the vast record accumulated by the FCC over the years proves this point: There is no problem."

Raymond J. Keating, SBE Council's chief economist, added: "The FCC's drive to micromanage broadband networks is a case of irrational exuberance for government interference. While Internet providers have every incentive to serve their markets well, and clearly no market failure exists, the FCC chairman nevertheless wants government calling the shots on broadband pricing and operations. Investment and innovation will suffer accordingly, as will the entrepreneurs and small businesses that rely on and contribute to the Internet. At a time of great uncertainty regarding the economy and markets, the FCC inexplicably is creating greater uncertainty."

As the SBE Council has argued in its comments to the FCC, certainty is needed in order for broadband providers to invest the billions upon billions needed to fully deploy broadband and maintain its complex operations and growth. Indeed, the FCC has developed a National Broadband Plan recognizing the need for massive private sector investment in order to reach its goal of making broadband available to every American who wants access. Unfortunately, the FCC's obsession with regulation will undermine the essential goals it sets out in the National Broadband Plan, according to SBE Council.

Kerrigan continued: "Chairman Genachowski is moving full-steam ahead with a risky regulatory scheme even though the Congress has never given the Commission such authority to regulate the Internet. As consumers of broadband, and as entrepreneurs engaged in its deployment, maintenance and development; small business owners have the most to lose if intrusive new rules are enacted. That is why small business owners overwhelmingly oppose 'net' regulation, and we will continue to work with our supporters and small business leaders in Congress to ensure the FCC does not impose burdensome rules that disrupt innovation, service offerings, deployment as well as the Internet's staggering progress and the opportunities it offers."

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