September 20, 2016-FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said today that the FCC’s long-running inquiry into zero-rating practices has deterred broadband providers from rolling out new offerings. “In fact, I have had conversations with industry participants that withheld new offerings because it isn’t worth being caught up in an FCC investigation. One company told me that their engineers came up with some new interesting ideas that were shot down almost immediately by their general counsel because of this rule. It is never a good thing when lawyers are dictating technology winners and losers, no offense to the lawyers in the room,” Commissioner O’Rielly said in the prepared text of his remarks at the communications committee session of the International Bar Association Conference.
He also raised concerns about the Commerce Department’s proposed transfer to the multistakeholder community of its oversight of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) functions performed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. “Government influence is particularly troubling because ICANN’s bylaws incorporate a vague commitment to ‘internationally recognized human rights.’ There is no common definition of human rights: one country’s censored hate speech is another country’s protected freedom of expression. Therefore, such a requirement could enhance the ability of authoritarian regimes to use ICANN’s functions to control and sensor content. Certain domain names and IP addresses could be refused, turned off or traffic diverted if the websites contain content that some find objectionable,” the Commissioner said.
“We should also dispense with the notion that the IANA functions are merely perfunctory or meaningless. If that is the case, then why is there even a dispute or a demand that the U.S. ‘relinquish control’? Why exactly should we disrupt the current highly-successful functioning of the Internet as it exists today if the IANA functions are meaningless? Whether it’s actually technically important or just psychosomatic to the international community, the IANA functions and maintaining oversight over them are a valuable tool to leverage proper behavior, thereby preventing rogue regimes from harming the operations and oversight of the Internet,” he added. —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org