L. Gordon Crovitz | Obamanet Goes to Court

L. Gordon Crovitz, Real Clear Politics:

This week the federal appeals court in Washington considers the legality of the Obama administration’s decision to micromanage the Internet. Obamanet ended 20 glorious years of the Internet as a fount of permissionless innovation. Now judges will decide, in U.S. Telecom Association v. FCC, if anyone can ever again launch a website, app or new product without having to beg a bureaucrat.

The Federal Communications Commission chairman himself last week made the case for invalidating Obamanet. Asked at a news conference whether regulators would approve a new low-priced plan from T-Mobile, Tom Wheeler said yes, adding, “I also kind of chuckle at the fact that as we were debating the open Internet, everybody was saying, ‘Oh, this is going to thwart innovation, it’s going to be terrible. People are going to have to come to the FCC to say, “Mother, may I?” before they do anything in the market.’ Well that certainly didn’t happen here.”

Of course it did. Mother Wheeler said You may—though that became maybe when he added: “What we’re going to be doing is watching the Binge On product, keeping an eye on it, and to measure it against the general conduct rule.” Republican commissioner Ajit Pai warned T-Mobile not to assume anything: “I don’t think it should give any company comfort to know that the state of the law is so unsettled.”

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