At 80 Years Old, It’s Time for a Tune-Up
Eighty years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Communications Act into law. The act, which was drafted in the time of fireside chats and in the throes of the Great Depression, has provided the legal framework for all communications laws since 1934.
Since then, television, computers, tablets, cell phones, and the Internet, have all been invented, improved, and become a part of everyday life. In fact, just yesterday, we saw Amazon release the first cell phone with three-dimensional capabilities. Now I won’t claim to know what was going on in the minds of lawmakers in 1934, but I think it’s safe to say the members of the 73rd Congress did not have daydreams of the Internet or the near-ubiquitous connectivity of today’s mobile wireless networks.
As the law was written in the time of the telegraph and radio, and only updated in 1996, it falls woefully short in accounting for the many innovative technologies we enjoy today. The communications and technology marketplace continues to serve as the greatest engine of economic growth, social connectivity, and job creation the world has ever seen. And near constant innovation provides consumers and businesses with the goods and services they demand, and dynamic new ways to put information and power into the hands of people around the globe.
When Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and I laid out our plan for this update last year, we provided a timetable that included information gathering this year in order to have a strong record to legislate from next Congress. We have received tremendous public input on our #CommActUpdate and encourage that to continue as we release additional white papers on the detailed issues that weigh so heavily on today’s communications marketplace.
While we all stand in awe of how far technology has come since President Roosevelt signed the Communications Act into law, at 80 years old, it’s beyond time for us to acknowledge these changes and bring the Communications Act into the 21st Century.