New Legislation May Open The Door For FCC Regulatory Power Over Internet Content

from the not-a-good-thing dept

We're all for making content better accessible for the disabled -- but we ought to be careful when it comes to mandating it and potentially opening up internet content to the regulatory control of the FCC. A new bit of legislation being introduced by Rep. Ed Markey would (among other things) give the FCC regulatory power to mandate that internet video providers provide captions and a "video description" for the disabled. Basically, it would require "closed captioning" services for "major" video providers. On the face of it, this sounds well-meaning, but it's troublesome to suddenly give the FCC any sort of regulatory say over internet videos. The FCC's mandate is supposed to be over scarce spectrum -- which is (or is supposed to be) managed as a public good. It's not supposed to have regulatory power over much beyond that -- though, obviously, things have changed over the years.

Giving regulatory power over internet video, even for a seemingly "good cause," opens up all sorts of questions -- both legal and technical. Most worrisome, though, is conceptually, that this would open the door to making internet content open to government regulation. While there have been many attempts to regulate the internet over the years, for the most part, the government has seen fit to keep its hands out of regulating most internet content. Opening up internet video to certain requirements is a troublesome "nose in the tent" sort of situation. Rep. Markey, of course, is also well known for his proposed net neutrality bill -- and it's for the very same reason that I'm skeptical of legislating net neutrality. I'm a huge supporter of the concept of net neutrality -- and I believe strongly in exposing any provider who breaks neutrality. But once you open the door to the government regulating the internet, they're only going to regulate more and more and more. And, if you don't think that process won't be abused by entrenched interests, you haven't been paying attention to our legal system lately. Good intentioned laws for the internet will almost certainly have bad unintended consequences.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: closed captioning, disability, ed markey, internet video, regulation

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    r. decline, 12 Jun 2008 @ 12:19pm


    f*ck the fcc
    micro-power to the people
    radio is my bomb
    reclaim your airwaves

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.