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
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2008 @ 8:10pm

    Observations, nothing more than observations

    Wow. Is your expectation a larger, more bureaucratic government? That's insane.

    There are several incongruencies worth noting. What happened with CBS/Superbowl was sad, no doubt. But after reviewing the time-line can we determine multiple things. First off, consider Michael Powell was FCC chairman at the time when the Mardi Gras event occurred, but Martin oddly let CBS off with a slap on the wrist.

    Few remember that the event occurred shortly after the time which Michael Powell famously said he would have a hard time seeing the nation's 2nd largest and 3rd largest telecommunications companies combining.

    I recall MTV, the producer, had a call for action that indicated "something big" was going to happen during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show broadcast. Oddly, this news release was pulled down hours before the halftime show.

    Can you prove anything? Who knows and who cares. Under Bush, it seems it was all about taking care of his buddies. Considering the IQ of GW Bush seems to be somewhere around freezing temperature, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the two events of non-conformance to an AT&T+SBC+BLS Merger and Boobies on primetime were related, but I have no proof except downstream effects: Michael Powell was quickly escorted out for a "Yes Man" named Martin, whose first order of business was to approve an AT&T+BLS+SBC merger. They later "Happy Birthday" sung to him. Oh yes, Stanley T. Sigman also decided to retire.

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