For most people, the hardest part of their last few days on the job is finding the motivation to tie up loose ends before they leave. This should have been easy for the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, who left the agency upon President Trump’s inauguration. After Trump’s election victory, congressional leadership advised Wheeler to focus his staff’s energies on consensus and administrative matters and to avoid complex or controversial issues.
Wheeler didn’t take their advice. Just two days before Trump’s inauguration, Wheeler’s FCC issued a white paper asserting that the agency (1) has jurisdiction to comprehensively regulate cybersecurity for commercial communications networks and (2) should regulate the cybersecurity practices of broadband internet service providers (ISPs) and other sectors of the communications industry.
The FCC’s report is not only complex and controversial, its key conclusions are wrong. Like the analysis in so many other items the Wheeler FCC issued, the report just presumes the agency has authority to do whatever it likes with regard to cybersecurity. It doesn’t. Congress has determined that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the appropriate forum for addressing cybersecurity, not the FCC.
The FCC’s view of the cybersecurity marketplace is also based on something other than reality. Compelling evidence shows that market forces are in fact incentivizing substantial investment in the deployment of cybersecurity protections without the FCC’s interference. Read More