In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has written sweeping regulations based on little more than well-crafted narratives while ignoring the cornerstones of good regulation: independence, evidence and analysis. It has made the regulatory process an “economics-free zone,” writing regulations in the dark and ignoring warnings of unintended consequences. It has intervened in markets without any evidence of market failure or consumer harm. How is it that a major regulatory agency — one that once provided substantive advice to the rest of the world on how an independent agency should function — seems to have lost its way? It has had a lot of help. In case someone wants to destroy the credibility and effectiveness of an independent agency in the future, here are five ways to do it.
Remember the good old days, when Silicon Valley was all about creating cool stuff, taking risks, and making people say, “Wow!”? Now it seems the headlines are much more focused on the valley’s encounters with government: The heads of Google and Facebook were called to Europe to face calls for increased regulation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to regulate the Internet and set-top boxes, and European telcos are calling for app regulations that would hinder their US competitors. What happened? As I explore in this post, tech firms have satisfied almost every rule for ensuring undeserved government regulation. This is sad because many of these growing regulations are slowly cutting off the very oxygen that has made US tech great.