Lessig: Ditch The FCC, Replace It With Innovation Agency

from the stuff-to-think-about... dept

Larry Lessig has a piece in Newsweek suggesting that the new administration abolish the FCC and replace it with something he calls the Innovation Environment Protection Agency (iEPA) -- whose purpose is less about control, and more about getting government out of the way when not necessary. The purpose of such an agency would be: "minimal intervention to maximize innovation," with a core focus on keeping the government away from handing out favors and, more importantly, carefully reviewing any government monopolies to see if they cause net benefit or net harm. He starts off by talking about monopolies on things like spectrum, but says the agency can and should expand to cover monopolies such as copyright and patents.

There's a lot to like in the proposal, in theory. One of my big problems with pretty much any government program is how little effort there is to actually look at the basic question of: is this doing what it's supposed to do? And, if not, how do we change that? The GAO does a little bit in this area, but seems mostly powerless to actually effect change. Can you imagine if there were anyone in the government who was actually looking at some of the studies showing how much harm certain government-backed monopolies do to the economy -- and had the power to do something about it? However, it seems quite likely that, in practice, the iEPA would simply get co-opted by industry types, just as the FCC has, and the end result would be pretty ineffectual, if not downright backwards looking. A government agency designed to get the government out of the way? Not sure it's really possible...
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Filed Under: fcc, innovation, larry lessig, monopolies


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  1. identicon
    Mark Regan, 26 Dec 2008 @ 12:09am

    Response to Eleete

    What are you talking about? The FCC doesn't regulate the entertainment business. The link you provided deals with contributions made by the entertainment industry (movies, music, television content producers). These are traditionally Democratic industries NOT regulated by the FCC but instead, by their audiences, who do the true rankings of their content.

    The FCC deals with LICENSING of FREQUENCIES and for the past eight years has shown FAVORITISM to certain industries at the expense of others. Those favored industries are predominantly owned by Republicans, and the past eight years have seen the swine feeding at the public trough. Did contributions to Democrats skyrocket during this period (the Bush Predency)? Sure, because the PEOPLE of this country are not STUPID. They RESENT the theft and sale of their public airwaves to "favored" interests under the guise of "keeping taxes down."

    Now, instead of paying fair taxes, I and MILLIONS of other rural Americans, have to buy expensive towers and antennas and digital converters simply to WATCH TELEVISION on the PUBLIC AIRWAVES -- which we used to be able to do for FREE until George Bush and Kevin Martin SOLD them to their buddies.

    You see, here in the rural America the Republicans CLAIM FALSELY to care about, our access to FREE over the air television will end in just over a month, thanks to Mr. Bush.

    The political appointees installed at the FCC by Bush fail to understand the realities of RF propagation -- the digital signals simply will not reach from many of the transmitters into the heartland of our country, and the country-club set of Republicans simply do not care that our access to news and weather will be CUT OFF in just over one month because of the nefarious and deceptive policies of OUR government which for the past eight years has ignored the rights of the public.

    When was the public notified of an opportunity to contest the impending decision? Why did Chairman Martin LIE repeatedly to Congress when questioned about the impact of his policies on the rural areas of America? He spoke in terms of percentages of people (15%) affected (most people who live in or near big cities will not be affected) instead of answering the question with respect to the AREAS to be affected (in excess of 25%).

    I did not say Democratic politicians are innocent. But they DO stick up for the little guy more than the current administration has done for the past eight years. Theft of public airwaves is not too dissimilar from theft of MONEY, yet you will not see any prosecution of the offenders in court, because it was ENCOURAGED by OUR government's employees and political hacks. I call them traitors to the Constitution. Due process and equal rights were trampled in the rush to reward "certain" companies feeding at the public trough.

    The same thing happened with contractors during the Iraq War and during the Hurricane Katrina response. But those are other issues for other discussions. What has happened is part of what lawyers call a PATTERN AND A PRACTICE of violating the constitution and denial of rights under COLOR OF LAW in order to unlawfully benefit "certain" favored groups of our society at the expense of others. THAT is what the Obama administration will correct.

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