Monday, March 07, 2005

FCC needs change

A letter to the Seattle Times

Thank you for your piece by Jonathan Lawson of March 1 explaining the better alternatives to FCC administration. With the potential for several FCC appointments, we should prepare our Senators to fight against Republican appointees who support the free-market interests of the telecom industry. Why not champion the chairman who will truly serve the public interest? We the people are saying we want more control over our own resources. The airwaves are becoming more and more vital as we progress into the information age. It is our right to be informed and have free access to information. To this end, we as communities should be afforded every opportunity to administer this right, this should include municipal wireless networks. With the FCC’s help, cities should be able to maintain and control their own airwaves, without interference by profit-driven corporations. The time has indeed come when the available technology will enable communities to maintain their own broadband communications infrastructure. Because the airwaves belong to the public, there is no reason to erect any legal barriers to hamper this effort. As Milton wrote, "to the public good, private respects must yield." The FCC should take this mantra to heart and begin treating communities like the entitled citizens they are. There is no line in our US Constitution that gives priority to free-market capitalism over the interest of the public. If states continue to usurp the right of the people by passing anti-municipal wireless bills, they should expect a far-reaching Constitutional challenge, which could undermine the telecom’s bottom line forever. It is clear the media industry and the FCC have enjoyed a comfortable relationship thus far. In adjusting the FCC’s mission to better serve the public in this brave new world, I would venture so far to say that the FCC should defer to local or regional communications commissions in granting licenses. With the power to regulate local airwaves, local authorities can tailor their services to their communities. Can you imagine our municipal or even congressional library services in the palm of your hand – with no monthly charge?
In Egypt long ago, our ancient fore-bearers built a great library of information. If only we could each access this information as our work and leisure permit us. While that great library was engulfed in flames, today we citizens have the Constitutional right, and with that comes the responsibility, to protect our airwaves from those barbarians who would pillage it from us.