tv Former FCC Commissioners Discuss Telecommunications Act CSPAN March 7, 2021 10:03pm-11:01pm EST
really a feeling that big and bad, that necessarily large companies are abusing our consumers. i don't think that's true and most antitrust forces don't believe that's true. large companies are large because they are efficient and bring great services to consumers. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span2. >> next, former fcc commissioner's reflect on the anniversary of the 1986 telecommunications act. looking at notably section 30, which aimed to protect internet users who repost third-party material against liability. this runs an hour. hello, my name is harold furchtgott-roth at the hudson institute and center for economics of the internet.
it is my pleasure to welcome you to this session of the center for the economics of the internet's review of the telecommunications act of 1996. with us today is commissioner michael o'rielly, former commissioner of the federal communications commission. internet's review of the telecommunications act of 1996. with us today is commissioner michael o'rielly, former commissioner of the federal communications commission. he was one of the original staff members working on the telecommunications act of 1996, together with yours truly. together we will have a brief review of the telecommunications act of 1996. we hope you enjoy our review today. mr. o'reilly, welcome to the hudson institute's discussion of the review of the telecommunications act. thank you for joining us today. mr. o'reilly: it is a pleasure. who would have thought 25 years
later we would look so good? i was in much better shape in those days, but it has been a fun 25 years. harold: you are in the first grade and i was in the third grade and we are going to stick to that. i think we are the only two staffers who worked on the act who were then punished. we got sent to the fcc as commissioners to implement it, so we must've done something wrong. mr. o'reilly: i put my hand up for the job, i enjoyed it. then it came to an end and you move on gracefully. harold: let's tell the audience about the background. what was communications law before the telecommute occasions act of 1996? mr. o'reilly: as you know, communications law was governed by a couple of different statutes, but mainly the communications act of 1934.
many of the information predated the 1934 act from the 1927 radioactive. -- radio act. an adjustment was high on the list for the bell company and how phone companies would be regulated as it relates to the breakup of the old system in the mid-1980's. it was not until the mid-1990's that congress finalized those things, but a lot of effort went along to get to that point. the long and arduous process. harold: so 62 years between 1934 and 1996. did congress just wake up in 1996 and say, let's just passed an act? poor had they been working on this for a long time?
mr. o'reilly: they had been working on it for a long time and a number of bills had moved forward. there was a bill that moved out of the house, the congress stalled it. people look on that as a precursor to the 1996 act. as you know, our boss at the time, tom bliley, put his own stamp on the previous communications bill and changed it substantially in a number of different areas. putting the time and context, coming off the election in november of 1990 or, a huge change in the congress make up. house representatives changed power. you saw a huge class of freshmen members, a number that made it onto the house commerce committee. it was important to put his
measurement and his ideas and thoughts into that bill that moved through the committee process and into the conference committee. harold: that's right. by my review, there were hearings on the communications act and draft bills going back to the 1970's. it had been 20 years or more of effort of congress leading up to the 1996 act. tell us a bit about your recollections of being a staffer at the time. we were both working for tom bliley, one of the great legislators, in my view, in recent history and just a great man. tell us a bit about your recollections of working on the act. mr. o'reilly: you nailed the
last part, and i think it is important to highlight. tom bliley is a great person, great character, and a great family man and would rather have spent time with his family than on meet the press or any of the talk shows that where then popular during the day. he enjoyed and enjoys his family more than anything else. he saw his role as very important, but had the right priority, in my opinion. my recollection -- to get to your question -- my recollections of those times. i don't know if it is haunting me or just a good memory, but those conversations we had on the 1996 act -- or really 1995, february to december, are pretty haunting to my life.
i can remember them vividly. all the different vaccinations -- different machinations, all those conversations that occurred through the months were really innovative, really interesting, really time-consuming. effort was extensive by all involved. all the staff that had been part of the process seemed committed to the end goal even if they did not agree with all the revisions. the time had come where everyone put down their swords, i was a little older, i was very naive to the subject matter. i learned a lot through the process of being involved, listening to experts and staff who have been so knowledgeable on the topic, knowing how the different pieces fit in and what should be incorporated.
so many different stages to consider, so many different decisions were made by great teams. i have great memories of that time, all the conversation from outside parties, every single thing is ingrained. i took those lessons and made sure that from that point, any conversation, i wanted the most knowledgeable person in the room and i had them -- highest regard for them. it wasn't my history or background, and i felt inferior to them. after that, i set i will always know my subject matter as well as life lessons on the subject matter in my time in government. harold: you mentioned a major election in november of 1994, and the shift in party control
in both the house and senate. some viewers might think that the 1996 act was a partisan bill that was passed along party lines. was that the case? michael: absolutely not. if you look at the folks that were involved in this, the legislators that were involved, you've got john dingell, who spent a lot of time making sure they're on the same page. the different philosophies on governing and legislating, but certainly making sure those relationships remain strong. him and his relationship with -- jack feels from texas, they got along as best they could in terms of personality but it was a bipartisan effort. the numbers reflect that in different votes, there were
disagreements on amendments and some i wish had failed that actually made it into particular bills and into final law. i wish they didn't, i struggled with a lot of them after, and i'm sure you did when you were with the commission, a couple where the language should have been clearer. we lost a couple of floor amendments that hurt. but overall, it was a very bipartisan effort. the legendary fritz hollings, and the numbers are overwhelming in the senate as well. at the end of the day president clinton had this huge ceremony at the library of congress and everybody there, not only government officials, all the public advocates and everybody embracing the outcome. bipartisanship was a hallmark of
how he operated as best he could and how he legislated. harold: that's right, i think there were over 90 votes in the senate. really an extraordinary, and it was passed during an acrimonious period in washington. i recalled government shutdowns and a staff meeting to try to get the bill out. do you have some recollections of that period of time? michael: of course, it was one of those things at the time that was importance. i had a designation and was not sure was going to play out that way, but it did. you had a government shutdown, a very tough congress. the first hundred days, congress
pushed a lot of legislation out the door. you had some vision of where the commerce want to go and leadership and where one it taken. after you move that aside you see where the effort was an you go on with support for this. very memorable, very enjoyable, in retrospect, i must admit. every day it would go in fits, it's going to move, it's going to die. a couple of different times, there was a comment from a congressman from ohio set it was deader than elvis. a couple of weeks later, elvis had rejoined life.
it wasn't soon after that we got it out of the conference that concluded. so it was one of those things where at any point in time, the plug could have been pulled. it had been pulled many times before in 20 some years of effort. it kept plugging along and plugging along and you finally get to the endpoint with a very successful outcome. there's a lot of good things to embrace, and then some things that occur as part of legislating and what happens on capitol hill that will stick with me forever as well. i'm sure your memory is similar to mine. ? michael: let's go on to the substance and begin with some the things that played out pretty much as you might have expected back in 1996. i can think of some scenarios. what are some of the scenarios you think back in 1996 that
played out? michael: the heart of legislation is the local telephone company provisions, how do you deal with opening up the local telephone market, and then the trade-off that was made by congress, that would allow the existing bell companies to enter a long-distance market. it effectively did happen, and it worked effectively, maybe it didn't last as long as people thought it would. it certainly had a positive effect. it goes back to the stuff you highlighted early on. the government knew at a time it was going to go in a different direction but the heart of the legislation was the trade-off. it worked for a good seven or eight years.
but from that you had a dynamic industry, new competitors now racing forward, building infrastructure and competing networks, that really change the dynamic of the communications industry. the infrastructure certainly fed into the internet, a lot of fiberoptics that were installed in major urban markets where the building blocks for mapping of the then modernizing the internet and backbone to what we have today. harold: i agree, i think a lot of the section 251 through 271 provisions worked out sort of as people thought. there is an expectation that there would be this dynamic industry developed, which did for a couple of years. then it kind of fizzled out.
not because competition didn't work, i think it was that no one really figured out at the time what was going to happen was broadband and online services would take over from circuit-switched technologies. these markets that we thought were so important back in 1996, long-distance services, they don't exist anymore, so it's not a market. so technology has changed and provided a different and superior form of competition then they could've ever imagined. michael: you put everybody around the table in a room, you say do you think and 25 years that would be no at&t? no mci, no sprint, and most of
the long-distance industry completely collapsed, and in the local market there would be very few players left. certainly nobody using the 10% circuit-switched copper lines. i don't know if anyone would have put money on that or would gamble or whatever the case may be. some of the companies exist in one form or another now. i don't think we would've seen such huge change in the marketplace that could have envisioned what happened at the time. that's part of the difficulty that congress has to play in what is its role and how far it can see in the future. harold: to some extent that's one of the beauties of the telecom act. it allows for competition. it enable companies whether they are online or not to say were
going to provide these services and you can't stop us, whereas before the 1996 act, whether a lot of these services would even be lawful today. but you are right, in 1990 six, no one on capitol hill and frankly no one in america would say in 25 years one of the six largest corporations in the world, their names would be apple, amazon, microsoft, facebook, google, and tesla. some people might have guessed apple and microsoft, but the other four didn't even exist and they are by far the six largest corporations in the world today. all of which have a very active role directly or indirectly in communications. another area that was probably worked out sort of at least as you might have expected is the
cable industry and the deregulation of the 1992 act, and that was fairly immediate. you got to see new investment that kind of dried up over four years. michael: that's absolutely fair. i think it's because the provisions are mostly explicit. they were very clear on the cable side what congress wanted. you see that compare differently to some of the changes we saw in the media ownership space and what we're left with in the biennial review that turned into the quadrennial mess that both you and i had to live with that the commission. harold: i'm glad you raised that. i have to say all the provisions of the 1996 act, the one that surprises me the most is media
ownership. it is a trivial part now, but if you had asked me in 1996, what's going to happen in two years? i would of said media ownership rules are going to be gone. no question, they are out of here. and candidly i think that was the intent of congress at the time. as i recall, i could be wrong, but it was something like the media ownership rules were eliminated in the house bill in the senate bill can kind of keep them on board. we came up with this face-saving thing that they would be gone. here we are 25 years later and these archaic rules for the 1970's and some from the 1930's and 1940's are still with us. michael: if i were asked what were the immediate cuts that
cause the most angst or surprise, i think to completely provide congress and the courts and the fcc, just -- i think the preamble has been abused. it's been used in many items that should not have been given so much weight. it's very much one of those trade away things, you didn't really care because the language is supposed to be -- be more governing than the springboard of hat was to be structured. some of the reviews on some of the ownership issues really surprise me how they've been treated by the commission. one of the things that is still
so highly contentious in the statute and some of the others, and then the siding provisions, of course. how we are siding and where we are. those permissions were not add-ons but they certainly were not the main invitees to the dance. but they've now garnered more attention than many others and it's surprising for those reasons. how much weight, how much time and effort have gone into the report and how much, the governing philosophy behind it, it really was not as significant in my recollection as people give it heightened attention now. i think maybe it was two steps, for me. in four years i would probably get rid of most of the immediate
ownership. it may take a to trot effort and a little more effort on media ownership, but certainly not where we are now, which is exactly where we were then. those kind of things jump out at me, having lived through them at the commission in days after you had moved on to a higher power. i don't know if you have any thoughts on those or others that jump out at you? harold: let me just review some of those with you. first of all, section 706, i always think of that as senator conrad burns provision. senator conrad burns was one of the most conservative members of the senate and i'm sure he would have been absolutely shocked, absolutely shocked if his provision, which is entirely about the regulation, about opening up markets, that there was not enough rock band deployment. if he knew that was going to be
used to try to impose regulation , that would be completely mangling section 706. the preamble -- i was kind of the skunk at the picnic during some of those staff conference meetings. at the very end i think they threw me this phone, -- through mia bone, come up with a few words for the preamble. i think it's probably the only part of the act i can claim. it was supposed to be completely worthless, because you are right , it's just a preamble preview it's nothing. and yet people have interpreted it in ways that it is supposed to be deregulatory. somehow it is gotten mangled to mean something entirely
different. some of the other provisions you mentioned have gotten interpreted in ways that are very surprising. one section you didn't mention, which i thought you might, is section 230. can you tell us a bit about section 230? michael: it is an ongoing discussion among every single person that i can see on twitter, everyone has turned into a prognosticator and a constitutional scholar and a statutory interpreter about this one provision and how it changed the entire internet, and how it harmed everybody in between. i'd like your take on the substance of it, but i look at it as a process perspective. i look at it as the house effort
and the boats that we actually had, and you may recall this as i do, being in the basement of the capital, and win a number of the senators were pushing the communications decency act, exxon moving forward -- a number of conferees that were supported of it, and a number of house members that were supportive of it. it certainly bubbled up and members were cautious of being on the wrong side of it. he found himself in a majority position are certainly in a place where he could be successful, and you saw the house respond, knowing that most house members found it completely unconstitutional. that's why you saw the expedited review by the court system is a method to diffuse that. also the institution or adoption
of the 230 provision which i had the opportunity to listen to the authors, and our boss obviously had some say in the matter, but ron wyden, was a house member and now is in the senate, and there was the debate for how it played out. i'm coming at this from process perspective, and see where it comes from and where it was intended and what they see in the marketplace today. i look at the statute and say this was the debate that was had at the time, is operating as intended, it provides immunity to those interactive services, it provides immunity from the content of the users, that the
government won't interfere with their ability to monitor and adjust the network. we expected them to do important things and to help guide their platforms as they saw fit. we thought there would be an active, competitive universe, and there was at the time. a dynamic for those that were aol users or copy serve, a number of different things. we thought that universe was competitive. we wanted them to have the flexibility and not be sideswiped by a court system into steps that they work expected to take. so i think it's a counterweight to the rest of the statutory provisions, the language and the penalties the senators had tried to instill but things went off the rail. i don't know if you agree with my interpretation but it certainly it you do what i think
is how we are in terms of process. harold: no, like you, i don't recall much of the discussion with the members and staff, and as you point out, it was the melding of information with the communications decency act, some of the language. the language is very much framed in terms of child protection, and i remember we on the house staff side wound up consulting with hoyt abrams who gave us some advice about some of the language. the courts reviewed it -- with the decency act provisions part. but the essential language from that is still there.
i also have to say, my recollection in 1996, if someone said which provision of the act are people going to be discussing 25 years from now? i would have been hard-pressed to think section 230 was the one that was going to be capturing the imagination of lots of people, but that is really how it has turned out, at least in 2021 as we sit here today. michael: i was shocked that i spent so much time at the commission regulating payphones. it turned into a provision on the language and what it's intended to do has been totally migrated and the debate is now on prison payphones. none of that was ever contemplated in 1996. it wasn't in anyone's mindset at all.
it's something i spent way more time than i imagined when i took the job on prison payphones. i would never have thought that, how much airtime it would get. harold: no, and when i was a commissioner, i spent a lot of time actually on payphones. we kept losing in court, and then on prisons, so we continued that tradition and kept on losing in court. i think that result was trying to regulate crisis if anything is not a good thing, and the commission is really not very good at it. fortunately, i have a sneaking suspicion that the commission in the coming year or two is going to spend a lot of time attempting to do what the commission does badly, which is regulate prison rights. michael: it's possible, but i
understood they were seeking, but what i could never get across to them is that you had a receptive congress. i came from that body and there were members on both sides they all that were willing to consider amendments, didn't necessarily have to be as part of the communications act, it could be in some other statute to give the commission authority, to tell congress, the wishes of congress what they wanted to do on prison payphones. it wasn't until the last two years of my time when it was introduced. i never understood the reluctance to go to congress, whether to try to bulldoze, it was really difficult. and also to denigrate different people's opinion. i understand the arguments and the concept for the people, but i would always get attacked for not voting for it as some kind
of indication of my social views of prison, and it was nothing of the sort. i bring that provision up as something that you look back and see what got so much airtime, so much attention after the fact that no one would have imagined. there's so many different pieces. the things that did not get much attention, whether it be the belle operating equipment prohibitions, it didn't matter, very quickly we knew that they were not interested in those so it didn't really have any impact. so many other things that have been interpreted, it's comical. harold: right, another provision that never went anywhere that we spent a lot of time on something called an online video platform. some kind of shared video platform, i don't think it ever really saw the light of day.
michael: there were a number of cable companies that took it up but it wasn't a great model for the regulatory process, both state and federal guys didn't want to go that route. it's attempting -- a testament to how much time we spent on that provision and how much it didn't actually have any impact. it's very intriguing. harold: you mentioned that you spent a lot of time in the senate and you have a good sense of sensibilities of congress and where congress might be interested in amending the communications act, or where it may not. michael: there's always
discussions about rewriting parts of the 1996 act. tell me what has attracted the most attention on capitol hill in terms of possible areas for a rewrite? harold: i look at this congress and are referred legislators to what they think they can accomplish. i think it's really tough. i went through senate dailies when the numbers were really tight and it's hard to move things, so easy to stop things from moving forward. the last couple of congress is i testified, it never got any ware that we were going to -- that the commission could advocate for certain things and help them out. it never worked out. those are wider margins between the parties. such a tight congress, it seems like a heavy lift.
i would put my money against anything happening. what should it look like? there's pieces of it that i think you could address and provide certainty but the debate has moved on. most of the wireless is addressed, but we worked on the spectrum act of 2012. you've got the wade boggs act in a number things have moved forward. i think there's a lot of good that can be done in the communications space legislatively, that i'm not sure it's addressing the 1996 act and we need to address local telephone competition provisions?
probably not. we don't know how they would be interpreted or how they would apply to modern communications. some of those things took care of themselves and are no longer applicable. those things, forward leaning, forward action and forward provisions rather than backwards. it's probably not a priority, but going forward, what should be the landscape and how should broadcasters be regulated, if at all? how should cable and the video marketplace be regulated, if at all? those are the things that are central. thei think that is a component d
we look upon it now and say that is the engine that drives the train of the rest of the pieces and that looks like the 96 act -- in the not too distant future, it really wasn't as significant as we thought it was going to be and it really isn't that important and telltale driver of the marketplace we thought it could be over time. the engine in both instances could be irrelevant. harold: i agree with much of what you said. i would not think there would be a rewrite of the whole 96 act. it's always a good bet to bet against congress legislating on much of anything. but there are specific revisions
that have attracted a lot of attention, whether it is broadcast ownership rules or section 230 or prisoner payphones. these are very targeted issues. section 222 on cpn i, there are a lot of issues you can almost imagine a rifle shot provision getting attached to a spending bill but i think there is zero chance of a broad-based rewrite of medications law. i don't think there's any consensus on any of that. there might be individual provisions that get some attention, though i think the odds are too but even against those. michael: as someone who looks at
it from the side of the table versus the government's side for so many years, there are a good number of provisions i think if you package them together could be a bill you could take to congress and say what do you think of this? some for the side, some fred that side, some for this group, some for that group and you can think of a trade-off that could go into the bill, but actually getting congressional time on the senate floor these days, that seems like a heavy lift. we will have to see. so many little pieces now -- 222 is a great example. it had been butchered by a previous commission and then the congressional review act and will congress come back and address it in some form or fashion? but i think it is a heavy lift because of the rifle shots that
have been attempted on so many different pieces over the last many years. so many things people have tried to get through and have not been able to be successful. the hard part about 230 and i made this comment before is everyone seems to be agreeing that to 30 is worthy of review and potentially reform. some would like to repeal it but the majority is for some type of reform. they are coming at it from different perspectives. most republicans are conservative and most are worried about how the platforms, how the big tech treat conservative voices and are they subjected to healthy algorithms work. many democrats worry about how the information, misinformation and how the platforms have been able to share conspiracy and nutty ideas without any
retribution or correction. those two things make it hard to find a middle ground even if there were a premise of some type of reform. i think it becomes a heavier lift even if there is a common theme. harold: i think you are right. i don't see any consensus about what direction section 230 reform would look like. one area i have heard a tough time -- there's a lot of work on ftc reform on various issues there. particularly if the new fcc decides to revisit network neutrality in a title ii form which would take ftc jurisdiction away on the carriers.
one area i might be able to see congress doing something, if they actually wind up doing anything on ftc reform is addressing that, to do with any part of privacy review the ftc would have. michael: i think may be there would be something legislation could get enacted. it's probably more in terms of guidance and direction, to send messages to the fcc. i expect an aggressive fcc -- i don't know that i agree with that or what they would do but i imagine a very active and probably the most active ftc in terms of the lobbying and the different attention heading to the ftc or doj versus the commission. certainly that is not how it has played out over the years. the fcc has been the attention
grabber for a lot of different reasons. the ftc has been more able to operate without so much attention and do its work. i think that's going to flip a little bit and get more active in the space. it doesn't mean the ideas are going to be good, but i think it is going to be a more active ftc. the fcc is likely to be active but you have months with an acting chairperson and finding a third seat for the majority, some of that will be tempered for a short time, obviously. then there are the things the congress has already given the commission that they expect from them that will keep them preoccupied and pretty busy. harold: you mentioned network neutrality. do you expect this new
commission to address network neutrality and if you do, do you think they are going to do it with a title ii approach? michael: absolutely. i expect -- i don't think anyone or the chairperson on the commission without swearing an oath to net neutrality. current members supported and anyone seeking to go that direction, they are going to support it. absolutely i think it is going to be a title ii approach. they start with the -- do they deal with the tom wheeler approach and the ideas where tom did not want to go as far as some others in the party at the time but now seems to be a common thread.
a lot of provisions in the title ii act do not apply, but i think there will be a lot of pressure from outside groups to not be so widely sweeping in terms of limiting the commission's authority for things like regulation i think are very much on the table. maybe for purposes of leverage or the bully pulpit, pushing the debate forward, i think it is front and center, not just we are going to take tom wheeler, rubberstamp it and move forward. i think the debate has changed a little bit. the first time i approached it in 2005 and 2000 was the origination, the debate has always morphed over time and what they want has changed and to hear people describe compared to 2005, you would laugh.
if you were having the debate now, most republicans agree with what we were contemplating in 2005. not everything that it has morphed into an entirely different direction. the previous commission's authorities, a roving enforcement bureau to see and act as it so chose, basically the blessing of any new business model -- i think that is something that was never contemplated before and will be heightened going forward. net neutrality, absolutely. what it looks like, probably to be determined. the previous commission plus. harold: you mentioned section 10 forbearance. one of the things that surprised me about the implementation of the 96 act was how infrequently section 10 was invoked and how
section 11 then regulatory review has never taken place in me five years. never. they have never really done it. it was a clever approach, may be clever by half approach for chairman wheeler to try to meld the two and do network neutrality and title ii plus section 10 and it never really got challenged in the court because there was a change of administrations and it never really happened. how do you see that playing out? is there a tension between designating something as title ii and at the same time, even before it has been implemented, say we are going to forbear from this and have this menu of options and we are just going to play around with what we really think title ii is going to mean?
michael: absolutely. i think it's very problematic both from a legal standpoint and a practical standpoint for companies to try to offer services. it did survive court, at least interpretation, for the ability to get the blessing. the rest didn't really get reviewed. it's interesting how those cases precede and they are getting points on how they are going to play out. but it is interesting to see. i look at section 10 and say -- and see how the commission had abused or mangled it and the tests they created to get something through the u.s. west -- just absolutely infuriating for anyone here had to live through the trade-off.
my difficulty with the 96 act is a lot of the trade-off, the balancing act only one side was able to win. the trade-off as you get some deregulation and -- in section 10 -- a lot of those got abused and did not get to be fully active as members interpreted. but the trade-off being made for other provisions in many other instances, those still live on today. as the hard part about legislation and i made this point recently -- i think it is so important for congress to be more specific in drafting law. it's hard, especially on items where there is not agreement and what if we brought this to the regulators, they can figure it out. they can find a happy medium. i think you see some issues where they did a decent job and
others they didn't and that is something i would go back into differently and something i took with me after job. i'm sure you did in other debates as well where i've made clear in new bills i drafted and language i negotiated, i was very clear what i wanted the commission to do, but worn partly what i didn't want them to do -- more importantly what i didn't want them to do. going back to see how section 10 was so mangled over the years, they pretty much defanged it. people thought it was going to got the statute. you have the opportunity to use it to overturn regulation or set aside statutory provisions and someone recently said there is a model that you can use but it never got fully used in this commission or in the fcc
doctrine. it was just abused over time by many different chairman and i hope someday congress can revisit it but it's probably not high on the agenda. harold: i think part of the problem on both section 10 in section 11 and all the regulatory reform acts of the early and mid-90's is that there is no enforcement provision. section 11, which we worked on is very simple. it says the commission shall review every regulation every two years. that got interpreted by the commission as the commission shall never review any regulations ever. no one has standing to go to court and say commission, you got this wrong. so the net effect is the commission figured out they could ignore provisions they did
not particularly like to deal with. michael: to give credit to the commission, so many -- hours and days were invested by staff to implement many provisions we cared so desperately about. they had a lot on their plate. i think some of the aftereffects and -- it's only good for a time and my views in terms of how much you can hold the regulatory body, if there is one, their feet to the fire, and it is probably a five-year window and after that, you see staff and trade and no one ever contemplated -- and that is what we are left with today.
it's probably not expected or not appropriate but hopefully the lessons from it will be something people will live with and i will share my views on some of these things and you will as well and i certainly hope many of the spalls that lived through the 96 act are carried through. i know i carried tech neutrality, which is different from net neutrality, had my time in the commission fought desperately for it and the senate, they were unwilling to debate the issue out or look for tech mandates, which is always good to hear. i hope some of those principles will carry the day again. harold: i just want to end with one quick note. when i was with the commission, section 11 was too difficult.
the first summarize a commissioner, and a couple of dozen interns and they did section 11, they reviewed every rule the commission had and we found a bunch of rules, such as requirements of morse code training on ships and we turned over results to the commission and the commission got rid of a bunch of archaic rules. when the commission says we can't do it, my reaction is so, yeah? let's see. give me a bunch of interns and i will see if a bunch of interns can do it. in that case, reviewing commission rules is not as difficult as it was made out to be. but let me not keep our audience longer. i promised i would try to get this done in an hour and let's do that. i look forward to continuing this conversation. for anyone who wants to reach commissioner riley, he can be reached here at the hudson
institute. we are happy to have him as a visiting fellow and your email address is? michael: [indiscernible] harold: >> monday night on the communicators, the efficacy of antitrust laws and if they should be reformed. >> we have antitrust statutes that were passed, the sherman act was passed way back in 1890. the clayton act in 1914. the sherman act makes it illegal to monopolize. the clayton act says any merger that is made substantially less than competition or to tend to create a monopoly is illegal. meanwhile we have watched while hundreds of these mergers that would be illegal under that standard have been approved. >> there's this argument that
underlines a lot of criticisms of today's antitrust. there's really a feeling that -- i don't think that's true and most antitrust forces don't think that's true. large companies are large because they are efficient and bring great services, popular services to consumers. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span2. >> this we can, the senate passed the nearly $2 trillion covid-19 relief plan. the legislation passed by a partyline vote of 50-49. the bill now heads to the house and is expected to be taken up on tuesday. the house returns for legislative business monday. the senate tuesday is expected to work on the nomination of congresswoman marcia f