Mossberg offers plan to preserve and protect the internet

“Despite the never-ending debate on the question of the role of government in America, there’s been a strong tradition of protecting our undisputed, important natural treasures, or taking on great common engineering challenges,” Walt Mossberg writes for Recode. “So, in the spirit of this grand American tradition, I’m going to propose here a way we can protect the internet, at least in America, from both political whiplash in D.C. and the constant commercial overreach that threatens it. I say we treat the internet as both a unique resource and a great common engineering project, something that merits government protection.”

“I suggest that Congress pass a broad law setting out the national interest in protecting the internet and the general principles by which that protection would be defined. This wouldn’t be one of those famous 1,200-page bills nobody can read. It would be meant as a sort of statutory manifesto,” Mossberg writes. “Then, in that same bill, Congress creates a special, permanent, nonpartisan independent commission, or even a special, narrowly focused court, to adjudicate disputes about internet issues as they arise, by interpreting the law. ”

“Notice I am not suggesting the writing of any regulations, because this idea aims for the lightest touch possible,” Mossberg writes. “This entity would also remove the politically charged, slow-moving, compromised FCC and FTC from internet regulation.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve heard worse ideas. At least Mossberg’s has a change of not stifling innovation while eliminating the tug-of-war between parties that alternatively – depending on which is in power – want to put the net under the auspices of the FCC or the FTC.

Thee must be some way to protect the internet without screwing it up or tossing the task back and forth between the FTC and the FCC. At least, pick one and then put curbs in place that guarantee oversight with the lightest touch possible.

As we wrote all the way back in August 2006:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

And as we followed up in September 2009:

That we have the same Take over three years later should be telling. Government regulations are not a panacea, neither are the lack thereof. It’s all about striking a proper balance where innovation can thrive while abuses are prevented.

Make that “the same Take over a decade later.”

FCC Chief Ajit Pai develops plans to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 7, 2017
U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
How so-called ‘net neutrality’ will fare under President Trump – January 26, 2017
New FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to take a ‘weed whacker’ to so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 24, 2017
President Trump elevates Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman – January 23, 2017
Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 13, 2017
Under President Trump, Obama ally Google may face policy setbacks, including roll back of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 18, 2016
Jeb Bush on FCC and so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulation: ‘One of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard’ – March 8, 2015
Who loves the FCC’s overreach on so-called ‘net neutrality?’ Telecom lawyers – March 5, 2015
Legal battles loom over FCC’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 26, 2015
U.S. FCC OKs so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules on party-line vote – February 26, 2015
U.S. FCC’s rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ expected to unleash slew of court challenges – February 26, 2015
EFF: ‘We are deeply concerned; FCC’s new rules include provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach’ – February 25, 2015
The U.S. FCC’s Orwellian Internet policy – February 25, 2015
Democratic FCC commissioner balks at so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 24, 2015
FCC chief pressed to release proposed regulations governing so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 23, 2015
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: Obama’s plan a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet – February 10, 2015
Congress launches investigation as Republicans claim Obama had ‘improper influence’ over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 7, 2015
FCC chairman proposes to regulate ISP’s under Title II – February 4, 2015
U.S. congressional Republicans’ bill aims to head off Obama’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ plan – January 17, 2015
U.S. Congressional proposal offers Internet rules of the road – January 15, 2015
U.S. FCC says it will vote on so-called ‘net neutrality’ in February – January 3, 2015
FCC hopes its rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ survive inevitable litigation – November 22, 2014
Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 12, 2014
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
There’s no one to root for in the debate over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014


  1. and the eight amendment right of no “cruel and unusual punishments” should be waved in cases of “hacking” with the victim determining what the punishment should be.

    Just a footnote would do.

  2. … Congress creates a special, permanent, nonpartisan independent commission, or even a special, narrowly focused court…

    no commission will ever be non-partisan
    no court will ever be narrowly focused

  3. Internet is an essential utility in much of the developed world and will only become more important over time. If your community does not have quality internet it is well on it’s way to becoming a backwater.

    The great problem is that most Americans do not have a competitive market for wired broadband internet. Mobile plans do not count as they are commonly capped (4-6 GB per month) well below what a connected household needs, while most wired Internet gives a data cap of 500 GB to 1TB for standard service. Satellite is usually capped around 30-50 GB per month.

    The Telecommunications industry in the US does not want a competitive market except in a few high profit margin markets and has actively fought municipal broadband initiatives by either existing community owned utilities or new operations- even where they do not offer or plan to offer broadband. Lobbyists for AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others have used State Legislatures to ban or severely restrict community broadband services. This should not be so.

    We need to sit down with all of the ISPs and interested parties and come to a basic agreement about how to get broadband to every community in our nation, but do it in such a way that it is neither burdensome to providers or monopolistically overpriced to consumers. There is no doubt that this could be worked out.

    Next, the rights of consumers to not be spied on involuntarily by ISPs or third parties like Google and Facebook for advertising placement should be clearly spelled out on the contracts in unambiguous and plain language understandable to the masses. If you choose to opt in- feel free, but you should not be forced to as a condition of service.

    Further, the Federal Government should void all state laws banning community broadband in any community that does not have at least 2 competitive wired broadband providers. Competition is the juice of healthy capitalism- not cartels which is essentially what we have in most of America. Now that AT&T is rolling out Fiber to the Home in my community it is amazing (LOL) how much more responsive and competitive Comcast has gotten. Instead of slow assed DSL, AT&T has Gigabit fiber against Comcast’s Cable Internet.

    Much of this can be done without the heavy hand of regulation or byzantine laws. If all parties can get a chance to sit down and hash this out there is plenty of common ground to improve internet services for all Americans.

    1. Well said, DavGreg. I’m seriously concerned about all of the oligopolies and monopolies that are taking over our society. A lot of lip service paid to “competition” when it’s the last thing big corporations really want. You’re right about that.

      1. I only post responses to political views when they are offered up first. This site has long been well known to lean to the Republican- NeoConservative side of things and a little pushback is always fine.

        Earlier in my life I worked on Conservative Campaigns until I saw the math of the Gaffer Curve did not add up and that American Conservatives like to claim to be Libertarian, except most want into your bedroom and Doctor’s office.

        MDN is one of the few places left where people of both Left and Right wing persuasions come and can openly comment. Many sites mod out anything not bland and other have banned comments completely. It is nice to banter with people who hold differing beliefs from mine.

        In America we differ in many things, but we all love our country and want the best for everyone. Go to Arlington or any other Military Cemetery- there are Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists and Independents all buried next to each other and all served our nation. Remember that the next time the rhetoric gets heated- I am an ACLU member and political Progressive but served 8 years honorably in the United States Army at home and overseas (1st duty assignment the 101st Airborne Division) and held US and NATO Top Secret Clearances. If you are a conservative, fine- speak your mind and vote your conscience. I would not have it any other way.

        1. I would only add to that (if I may be so bold) that CIVIL discourse is the key to being heard and getting things done.

          I love it when someone alters the course of on of my opinions by arguing with civility and great rhetoric. As soon as we start insulting each other characters, no one listens. We should argue to persuade above all else.

          I think that is the best way to honor those who have lived and died for our country.

          1. I’ve never met anyone who admitted that he or she changed his mind after an argument. Maybe it’s because I’m relatively youthful, or because I’m politically naïve. But it made me skeptical that we could ever escape the doldrums. All my life, I’ve believed my destiny was to die in World War Three because the people running the world were as hopelessly tethered to blind prejudice as I was.

            1. dReligious conversions aside for the moment, I think we change each other in smaller, less dramatic increments when we argue to persuade, rather than annihilate. I think the latter has come into vogue now that “everybody’s watching” on social media an such, but it doesn’t (IMO) lead to great solutions a lot of the time.

              Additionally, people are not keen to admit that their opponent may have scored a point on them. Especially if it’s a point that they can just as easily keep hidden. Personally, I like admitting that someone changed my mind a little. Sometimes they are folks that I like and agree with often and sometimes they’re not. The difference between the two sources is civility. When we’re civil we’re more likely to actually hear what the other person is saying and then consider it. If we never get to the actual consideration phase, no one is changed. Heads knock instead of being put together to find (perhaps) a hybrid solution.

              This is a great sentence, BTW: “All my life, I’ve believed my destiny was to die in World War Three because the people running the world were as hopelessly tethered to blind prejudice as I was.”

              It made laugh in a dry kind of way and it sounds like the first sentence of a memoir. Yeah, tethered to blind prejudice. That’s exactly what we have face sometimes.

              Well said.

  4. Without gov. regulation, free market enterprisers would put mercury in your drinking water and pave the streets with toxic nuclear tailings embedded in the asphalt. Remember, regulations are instituted to protect the commons.

  5. “This entity would also remove the politically charged, slow-moving, compromised FCC and FTC from internet regulation.”

    how would Mossberg’s permanent commission be any less vulnerable to political compromise than the FCC or FTC?

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