Politics

Trump Administration May Dissolve Telecom Watchdog

| by Oren Peleg

The Federal Communications Commission, established in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the federal government's main consumer protection agency for the telecom industry, may be facing the threat of closure. Mark Jamison, a top tech advisor in President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, called into question the very necessity of the FCC in a recent blog post.

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Tom Wheeler has come under increasing fire for suppressing economic analysis and being politically driven,” Jamison wrote in an Oct. 21 post to the site Tech Policy Daily. “In effect, we have not had an FCC for the past three years, at least not in the way the agency was intended to operate. So that raises the question: Do we really need the FCC? The answer is ‘no, but yes.’”

According to The Washington Post, the FCC has declined to comment on the attack. Furthermore, the agency has been a champion of renewed regulation for the internet, calling its current state a “duopoly” and comparing the internet to the early days of the railroad and telegraph.

"I think both Jeff [Eisenach] and Mark envision a significantly pared-down agency," said Hal Singer, an economist at the George Washington University's Institute for Public Policy. Eisenach is a fellow tech advisor to Trump.

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"In their minds, proponents of regulation must demonstrate a market failure… This is a 180-degree turn from Wheeler's FCC, which began with a presumption that markets failed."

Jamison continued in his post that the FCC’s main benefit was its ability to allocate the radio spectrum independent of political bias. “Thus, at the end of the day, we don’t need the FCC, but we still need an independent agency,” Jamison wrote.

Jamison concluded in a Nov. 15 post to Tech Policy Daily:

Strong leadership at the FCC is needed regardless of the new administration’s regulatory agenda.

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If the FCC’s work remains largely unchanged, the rebuilding is needed to ensure that the agency is strong enough to provide substantive decision-making and to withstand future politically-oriented chairmen. If the administration follows the other extreme and moves to largely disband the agency, effecting the change will require strong leadership.

Sources: The Washington Post, Tech Policy Daily (2) / Photo credit: Carl Lender/Flickr

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