Rep. Oxley Calls FCC Regulation the Greatest Threat to the Internet

(January 19, 1999)  Rep. Mike Oxley said in a speech on Friday, January 15, that "the greatest threat to the Internet is the threat that it will be stifled by overregulation, and the greatest threat of overregulation comes, not from the Congress, but from the Federal Communications Commission."

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Rep. Mike Oxley

Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH) spoke at the Annenberg Public Policy Center on the subject of the Internet and FCC reform.  He stated that "reform and modernization of the Federal Communications Commission is perhaps the most important thing the 106th Congress could do to advance the development of the Internet, and all communications technologies."  As Vice-Chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, Rep. Oxley will likely be a key player in FCC oversight in the 106th Congress, which has just begun.

Rep. Oxley did not site any specific examples of FCC actions, such as recent statements by FCC lawyers that it might regulate Internet Protocol telephony and cable Internet access.  Rather, he stated:

"I don't say that because of anything said by any of the commissioners or any proposed rulemaking that might be out there. I say it because it is in the nature of regulatory agencies to find new things to regulate. That's what they do. And while this FCC has yet to make the Internet the object of its smothering affection, in my opinion it's just a matter of time. It's just too tempting, and the FCC in recent years has not been a model of self-restraint."

Related Pages

Biography of Rep. Mike Oxley.
Copy of Oxley Speech, 1/15/99.

Rep. Oxley also cautioned that it would not be in the interest of FCC reform to reopen some of the hot debates over telecommunications policy.  "In my opinion, FCC reform is a very realistic goal for the 106th Congress, but only if we stay focused on reform, and don't get sidetracked in old fights over other telecommunications policies."

He concluded his speech: "But there is no surer way to kill FCC reform dead in its tracks that to reopen those disputes. We need to take up FCC modernization, and we need to stay focused on the structure and the mission of the Commission itself -- otherwise the effort doesn't have a prayer."