“The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.” So goes the self-help cliché. For regulatory agencies, the first step is admitting that industry has a problem and that the wonderful happy world of the unregulated market – no matter how wildly competitive it might or might not be – doesn’t always protect consumers and that in fact, sometimes, free market dogma to the contrary, you actually reach the best result for everyone by having government set basic rules of disclosure and enforcement (the classic paper on this being George Akerlof’s oft-cited “The Market For Lemons”). The recent experience with the meltdown of the financial services sector and its ongoing tribulations provide rather vivid proof that “trusting the market” and waiting for “proof of a problem.”
Which brings me to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s latest app release for Genachowski 2.0 – the Relaunch. With network neutrality on the backburner until after the election, Genachowski has taken the opportunity to get the agency on track with its substantive agenda. In addition to moving forward for the second month in a row on significant National Broadband Plan Items (White Spaces last month, CableCARD and Mobility Fund this month), Genachowski has started taking the FCC in the welcome direction of consumer protection.