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SCOTUS: Who Controls the Internet? Free Market in Jeopardy, Thanks to Obama Rule


WASHINGTON, DC: Who controls the Internet, and how? That's the free market question before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1996, responding to a new and “flourishing” Internet, Congress amended the Communications Act and adopted as the “policy of the United States” the preservation of “the vibrant competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” To “encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies” Congress made clear that common-carrier regulations applied to only those who provided telecommunications services and not ISPs (which provide “information” services).

In other words, the Internet was not subject to the onerous common-carrier regulations. Fast forward 13 years. It is 2009 and the Internet is part of our daily lives. You no longer wait 10 minutes to hear “you’ve got mail.” Instead, the Internet and the information it provides are at your fingertips. Naturally, the Obama Administration decides that it wants to control the Internet (how it works, what information you receive, etc.). In the words of an FCC Commissioner who dissented from the FCC’s “open-internet Order,” the FCC gave itself “the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”

As you can imagine, a number of parties challenged the FCC’s power-grab as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the lower courts relied on Chevron deference and deferred to the agency interpretation. SLF joined Pacific Legal Foundation and NFIB Small Business Legal Center in an amicus brief which urges the Supreme Court to hear the case and reconsider its Chevron deference. The time has come for courts to stop deferring to agency interpretation and restore separation of powers - Congress has a job to do, and it should re-establish its Article I powers.

Click here for the SCOTUS amicus brief


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