I support adoption of this Notice of Inquiry. In my view, any reduction of unnecessary regulatory burdens is beneficial. To that extent, this item is good and I am all for it. In particular, I applaud the Common Carrier Bureau for having produced an item so clearly in the deregulatory spirit of Section 11 of the Communications Act. This item exemplifies how the FCC's power under this section can be used for the benefit of consumers and industry. It should not, however, be mistaken for complete compliance with Section 11.
As I have explained previously, the FCC is not planning to "review all regulations issued under this Act . . . that apply to the operations or activities of any provider of telecommunications service," as required under Subsection 11(a) in 1998 (emphasis added). See generally 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- Review of Computer III and ONA Safeguards and Requirements, 12 FCC Rcd __ (Jan. 29, 1998). Nor has the Commission issued general principles to guide our "public interest" analysis and decision-making process across the wide range of FCC regulations.
In one important respect, however, the FCC's current efforts are more ambitious and difficult than I believe are required by the Communications Act. Subsection 11(a) -- "Biennial Review" -- requires only that the Commission "determine whether any such regulation is no longer necessary in the public interest" (emphasis added). It is pursuant to Subsection 11(b) -- "Effect of Determination" -- that regulations determined to be no longer in the public interest must be repealed or modified. Thus, the repeal or modification of our rules, which requires notice and comment rule making proceedings, need not be accomplished during the year of the biennial review. Yet the Commission plans to complete roughly thirty such proceedings this year.
I encourage parties to participate in these thirty rule making proceedings. I also suggest that parties submit to the Commission -- either informally or as a formal filing -- specific suggestions of rules we might determine this year to be no longer necessary in the public interest as well as ideas for a thorough review of all our rules pursuant to Subsection 11(a).