Today, TechFreedom filed reply comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) regarding the assessment of annual regulatory fees—the fees imposed on licensees that fund the FCC’s operations. Our reply comments focus on the question of whether the FCC should adopt “new regulatory fee categories” on non-licensees that nonetheless “benefit” from the FCC’s regulatory efforts.

“Before the FCC can regulate an entity, or levy regulatory fees, the Commission must have actual authority over the entity,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “Especially after the Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v. EPA, an administrative agency can’t undertake new regulations just because it’s a good idea—regulations must be grounded in clear statutory authority.”

“While the dollar figures involved here may not be ‘major,’ the sheer number of companies that would, for the first time, come under the regulatory authority of the FCC is vast,” Dunstan continued. “Under the ‘benefits’ theory espoused by some, the FCC would be free to collect regulatory fees from every consumer, every business, and even every machine connected to the Internet.”

“Should the FCC consider broadening the pool of those who pay regulatory fees beyond traditional licensees? Possibly. But any foray in this area must be tempered by the knowledge that the FCC can only require payments from those it actually regulates,” Dunstan concluded.  


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