US policymakers are proposing a series of measures that could be "destructive" to the internet-based economy, according to a new report.
"While legislative attitudes in previous sessions of Congress were 'hands-off' in nature, the year 2001 saw policymakers shed their prior reluctance to consider regulating the net or cyberspace," wrote Wayne Crews and Adam Thierer, directors of technology and telecoms studies at the Cato Institute, a public policy research foundation.
The pair warned that legislators might adopt the telecoms paradigm of endless regulatory and legislative meddling for the technology sector.
"It appears that the tech sector may be pigeonholed into that paradigm simply because it offers a familiar set of rules and a bank of regulatory agencies that can be activated on demand," the authors wrote.
Crews and Thierer compiled a list of what they believe to be the 12 most misguided technology and telecoms legislative proposals of the 107th US Congress.
At the top of the "Terrible 12" is a bill that proposes another break-up of the US telecoms systems if they fail to meet certain performance standards.
The report also attacked a pair of bills that would facilitate greater antitrust scrutiny of baby Bell companies. Another bill cited in the report is a proposal to regulate electronic advertising and marketing activities.
Also included in the dozen are bills that seek to prohibit online gambling and regulate unsolicited email, and another that proposes the creation of a potentially meddlesome tax credit regime to spur broadband deployment.
The report mentioned legislation that would force the major record labels to license digital music to all webcasters under the same terms, and a bill that would authorise a multi-state cartel that could impose taxes on the internet.
The 12 bills have been dubbed "destructive" because they aim to increase government involvement in the technology or telecoms sector; threaten the civil liberties of US citizens; or promote regulatory decision making over the voluntary action of industry players, the report said.
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