The Same FCC That Ignored Science To Kill Net Neutrality Has Created An 'Office Of Economics & Analysis'

from the fake-science-is-the-best-science dept

You'll recall that the FCC ignored the public, the people who built the internet, and all objective data as it rushed to repeal net neutrality at Verizon, Comcast and AT&T's behest. Things got so absurd during the proceeding, the FCC at one point was directing reporters who had questions regarding the FCC's shaky justifications to telecom industry lobbyists, who were more than happy to molest data until it "proved" FCC assertions on this front (most notably the false claim that net neutrality killed sector investment):

"During a conference call FCC officials held with reporters last week, I asked about this discrepancy between Pai's assertion that investment is declining and what the actual data shows. The officials dismissed my question, saying I had my facts wrong. But they didn't offer any data that would prove Pai's argument.

Reached later, an FCC representative pointed to the USTelecom data (posted above) that Pai previously referenced. The representative declined to make the chairman or anyone else on his staff available for an interview."

With that as a backdrop, it's rather amusing to see the FCC this week hyping the creation of a new "Office of Economics and Analytics." This office, the FCC declares, will be focused on helping to ensure "that economic analysis is deeply and consistently incorporated" into the FCC's regular operations:

"The Federal Communications Commission today voted to create an FCC Office of Economics and Analytics. This new unit will help ensure that economic analysis is deeply and consistently incorporated as part of the agency’s regular operations. The Office of Economics and Analytics will use existing staff resources by bringing into one office FCC economists, attorneys, and data professionals who work on economic analysis, data policy and management, and research."

FCC staffers were quick to highlight the office's creation as a major paradigm shift and a return to "big picture policy thinking":

In an ideal world, this would be something to applaud the FCC for, since it has a long, proud history of using industry-provided data to justify federal apathy to the limited competition inherent in the broken telecom market. Real-world data has always inherently frightened incumbent ISPs like Comcast, since it shows how a lack of competition in countless markets is the primary reason American broadband suffers from high prices, historically awful customer service, and net neutrality violations (which themselves are just another symptom of limited competition).

The former FCC under agency head Tom Wheeler had actually taken some uncharacteristically-concrete steps on that front, including redefining broadband more realistically at 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream (something ISPs and their loyal lawmakers whined incessantly over). The FCC had also been working hard on basing policy decisions based on real world data provided by consumer routers with custom firmware, instead of its long-standing history of blindly taking ISPs' word at the speeds they deliver consumers.

But Ajit Pai and Trump's FCC is an entirely different animal.

Ajit Pai's agency has shown time and time again that its interest in "objective data" consists of blindly parroting "research" by ISP economists, hired specifically to molest the numbers until they justify the agency's frontal assault on consumer protections and meaningful sector oversight. Pai himself has similarly parroted all manner of falsehoods as he rushed to axe net neutrality, from claims that net neutrality emboldens dictators in Iran and North Korea, to the claim the U.S.' modest neutrality rules utterly devastated sector investment (disproven by SEC filings, earnings reports, and countless CEO statements).

So yeah, ideally you'd hope this office is used to make sure genuine, objective data is used to fuel agency decisions. But based on the last year's worth of behavior by Pai, it seems much more likely that the office will simply be used to industrialize the act of using telecom lobbying data to justify federal apathy to the lack of competition in the U.S. broadband market. Perhaps we can start a Techdirt pool on which outcome is the most likely?


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  • identicon
    David, 31 Jan 2018 @ 6:59am

    Too many letters.

    "that economic analysis is deeply and consistently incorporated"

    The relevant being "anal deeply consistently corporate".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2018 @ 7:17am

    these are not equal

    Title

    "The Same FCC That Ignored Science To Kill Net Neutrality Has Created An 'Office Of Economics & Analysis'"

    First sentence

    "You'll recall that the FCC ignored the public, the people who built the internet, and all objective data as it rushed to repeal net neutrality at Verizon, Comcast and AT&T's behest."

    Well? Did they ignore science or the public? If it was science where is the scientific review? Are you trying to make it look like you don't care about integrity?

    We already know the FCC is corrupt and I am sure they would ignore anything including science in their pursuits, but if you feel the need to lie about things that did not happen or did not link to for evidence of that statement to advance your agenda, then you really are not much different than the FCC are you?

    Try acting a little more adult about things... it might work even better than lying.... being a "journalist" and all that...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2018 @ 7:20am

    Re: deeply and consistently incorporated" into the FCC's regular operations:

    Yeah,

    Like it was with the SEC in 2008.

    How do you know when an economist is lying?

    When the check you paid him to lie, hasn't be cashed yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Jan 2018 @ 7:29am

    'This economic analysis report sponsored by Comcast. Comcast: Because Screw You.'

    But based on the last year's worth of behavior by Pai, it seems much more likely that the office will simply be used to industrialize the act of using telecom lobbying data to justify federal apathy to the lack of competition in the U.S. broadband market. Perhaps we can start a Techdirt pool on which outcome is the most likely?

    Yeah, I don't think you'd get many takers willing to put money on that bet. One needs look no further than the last 'advisory group' created by Pai's FCC to know exactly what this one will be used for, with 'providing actual data that might contradict the positions taken by the current FCC' not even remotely in the cards.

    Much like the BDAC, I expect this one will also be used to provide whatever 'statistics' will support whatever Pai is claiming at the time, statistics which will be 'helpfully provided' by the very same companies he's serving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2018 @ 8:10am

    "Office Of Economics & Analysis"

    Isn't that the purview of some other agency, FTC possibly.

    I though the GOP mantra was remove government bloat, pare down the bureaucracy and cut spending but when ever they get the chance they do the opposite. What they say does not match up with anything they actually do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TMC, 31 Jan 2018 @ 8:11am

    I broke the cipher

    “Chairman Pai’s lies were deeply embarrassing. We’re forming an office to come up with less embarrassing lies.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Iggy, 31 Jan 2018 @ 8:36am

    A government run by economists

    I once fantasized what it would be like if countries were run by economists. I nievely thought independent economists were a real thing and economics could be seperated from values.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Jan 2018 @ 8:46am

      Re: A government run by economists

      The problem I see with economists is that roughly half of them say one thing and the other rough half say the opposite. I have never heard of one of them being actually right, only lucky in their guesses.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 31 Jan 2018 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re: A government run by economists

        It's like those studies that show financial brokers make their clients a profit 49% of the time. So their clients WOULD have been better off flipping a coin that paying for a broker.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 31 Jan 2018 @ 8:56pm

        Re: roughly half of them say one thing and the other rough half say the opposite

        No different from your politicians, then.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2018 @ 10:25am

    Translation

    We've decided to give telecom lobbyists new office space here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2018 @ 10:29am

    New Truth

    The FCC's just following Trump's lead as a Russian-trained purveyor of "pravda." The Russians have two words for truth. "pravda" and "istina."

    Pravda: official, public truth, a.k.a, propaganda, bullshit, etc.
    Istina: basic, fundamental, unquestionable truth, i.e., reality.

    Pai is simply one of the most reliable early-adopters of Commissar Trump's methods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ThaumaTechnician (profile), 31 Jan 2018 @ 11:06am

    Maybe the FCC means 'Analysis'

    ..in the same sense that porn does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 31 Jan 2018 @ 12:01pm

    responsiblitY..

    I wonder sometimes if CHINA has the better ideal..
    IF they REALLY SCREW UP, we chop off a head or two..

    In some awful way, we have decided that an Apology is better then DOING THE RIGHT THING, in the FIRST PLACE..

    We have replaced HONOR with Lies and what?
    I was reaised by the ideal that LIVING your life as you SHOULD, is better then asking for FORGIVENESS when you die.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James H.Kelley, 31 Jan 2018 @ 4:25pm

    FCC Lies

    So the burning question for me is; What are we/can we do about it..It's a shame, but not a damn thing

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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