FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell delivered a terrific speech this week on “Technology and the Sovereignty of the Individual” at a broadband conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The speech serves as another reminder that McDowell is one of those ultimate rare birds: a regulator who is a first-rate intellectual thinker and a great champion of individual liberty. It’s a beautiful statement in defense of real Internet freedom. I can’t recall ever seeing another federal official cite the great Bruno Leoni in a speech!
Here’s a sample of what Commissioner McDowell had to say:
To propel freedom’s momentum, policy makers should remember that, since their inception, the Internet and mobile connectivity have migrated further away from government control. As the result of longstanding international consensus, the Internet itself has become the greatest deregulatory success story of all time. To continue to promote freedom and prosperity, regulators should continue to rely on the “bottom up” nongovernmental Internet governance bodies that have a perfect record of keeping the ’Net working and open. We must heed the advice of leaders like Neelie Kroes, who has consistently called on regulators to “avoid over-hasty regulatory intervention,” and steer clear of “unnecessary measures which may hinder new efficient business models from emerging.” I couldn’t agree more. Changing course now could not only trigger an avalanche of international regulation, but it could halt the progress of freedom’s march as well.
With these pragmatic principles in mind, freedom-loving governments everywhere should resist the temptation to regulate in the absence of pervasive market failure. Needless government intrusion into the Internet’s affairs provides nefarious authoritarian regimes with the political cover they desire to justify their interference with the ’Net. To prevent an escalation of international regulation, we should encourage the kind of positive and constructive chaos that only unfettered competition can produce. We should adopt spectrum policies that promote flexible uses, spectrum allocation through fair auction processes and, when appropriate, unlicensed use of the airwaves to spur innovation and adoption. Fueling freedom in this way will turn the world upside down for the better.
Preach it, brother! Read the whole thing.