FCC Gores College Oxen

Inside Higher Ed has an article today on new FCC rules issued earlier this month that demand that colleges allow law enforcement entities the ability to remotely install "wiretaps" on the college networks. (A subpoena is still required as before.)

The article points out that such changes are extremely complicated and expensive, and are expected to generate little gain over the current situation (where wiretaps need to be installed with the cooperation of the college network gurus, bless their hearts):

The American Council on Education, based on analyses done on a number of campuses, estimates that making these changes would cost colleges approximately $450 per student, or a total of $7 billion.

College groups that are objecting to the new rules say that they are particularly upset because there is no history of federal authorities having difficulty placing wiretaps in college networks because there is no history of them seeking to do so. "This is an awful lot of money for very little gain," said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for public and government affairs at ACE.

So let's see here: government regulations with cost/benefit ratios totally out of whack, where costs are pushed onto consumers, typically "invisibly" via cost increases. Most people with even a smattering knowledge of the libertarian critique of government regulation will respond: nothing new here!

Of course, the Inside Higher Ed folks are off base in picturing this as a particular problem for colleges: private ISPs will have to comply with the rules as well, and similarly pass the costs along to their customers.

It would be nice if people would wake up to the perniciousness of burdensome regulation everywhere, not simply when their ox is being gored.

Last Modified 2005-10-24 6:20 PM EST