Trump Names Net Neutrality Foes To Transition Team

In a move that bodes poorly for the new net neutrality rules, President-elect Donald Trump named two outspoken opponents of regulation to the transition team.

Jeff Eisenach, visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and the University of Florida's Mark Jamison, will help guide policies for the Federal Communications Commission. Eisenach, who reportedly has also served as a paid telecom consultant, has made no secret of his opposition to broadband regulations. In 2014, several months before the FCC passed the rules, he condemned the prospect of new regulations in Senate testimony.

He told the lawmakers that the FCC had no good reason to get involved in broadband carriers' business practices. "As a general matter, government intervention in the marketplace can enhance economic welfare only in cases of market failure," he said in his prepared testimony.

The FCC's net neutrality rules, passed in 2015, prohibit broadband providers from throttling or degrading content, and from charging companies higher fees to prioritize delivery of their material. The rules, which were widely praised by consumer advocates, were supported by President Barack Obama. A three-judge appellate panel upheld the regulations earlier this year.

Back in 2014, Eisenach dismissed concerns that the rules were justified by broadband providers' monopoly (or duopoly) power in many portions of the country. "The broadband market is, if anything, less concentrated than many markets that make up the Internet ecosystem," he told the Senate, pointing to search engines, social networks and operating systems as examples of the types of markets dominated by a few firms.

More broadly, he raised philosophical arguments against the rules, which he suggested would set a bad precedent that could ultimately harm free speech. "By embracing the idea of state control of the Internet -- both economic and political -- the adoption of net neutrality regulation by the U.S. would legitimize the efforts of tyrants everywhere to impose far more repressive forms of statist intervention," he stated.

Jamison is also on record as opposing net neutrality. What's more, he also opposes current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to let consumers replace expensive set-top boxes with free apps.

"Apps may be the future of video entertainment, but that does not mean that government should be making this choice," Jamison wrote in September.

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