Addressing wireless industry officials at the GSMA World Mobile Congress in Barcelona on Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell urged government leaders worldwide to maintain adherence to a “multistakeholder” model in managing the global Internet as they warned against the establishment of a new international body that would regulate the World Wide Web. Genachowski and McDowell, however, diverged somewhat in their remarks concerning the FCC’s role in implementing its new statutory mandate to conduct incentive auctions of broadcast TV spectrum, with Genachowski asserting that government has “an important, but limited role to play” and McDowell calling for regulatory restraint. Declaring, “we are at a crossroads for the Internet’s future,” McDowell told his audience that the creation of an international body to oversee Internet governance would be “counterproductive,” as such a step would “ultimately sweep up Internet services into decades-old [International Telecommunications Union] paradigms” and would thus “imprison the future in the regulatory dungeon of the past.” While agreeing that “modification of the multi-stakeholder Internet governance model may be necessary,” Genachowski echoed McDowell in warning that replacement of that model with a centralized governance body “would be devastating to the future of the Internet, including the mobile Internet.” Along the same vein, Genachowski further advised that governments “should reject unnecessary regulations on cloud computing, including rules that limit the physical location of data and code.” With respect to the newly-enacted Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which authorizes the FCC, among other things, to conduct incentive auctions of broadcast television spectrum, Genachowski voiced concern that the statute, signed into law on February 22, “contains provisions that could reduce the amount of spectrum we would otherwise recover for mobile broadband” and that such provisions “could limit the potential benefits of incentive auctions to the mobile industry and mobile consumers.” Although Genachowski promised that the FCC will implement the law “faithfully,” McDowell pledged to work to “ensure that our auction rules are minimal and ‘future-proof,’” as he emphasized: “time and time again, history has proven that regulators’ attempts to over-engineer spectrum auctions result in harmful, unintended consequences.”
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Genachowski, McDowell caution against central regulatory model for internet governance
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