Michael Powell, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has a reputation for favoring free-market competition over government regulation. With similarly minded Republicans holding a 3-2 edge on the agency's five-member commission, he will have more clout to implement his vision than did his predecessor, William E. Kennard.
Powell wisely argues that he and other regulators should "take our ignorance more seriously," and he recognizes that "our bureaucratic process is too slow to respond to the challenges of Internet time." But Powell, the son of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, must also be careful to uphold old democratic values like fairness in rapidly evolving new media. The Internet is just as susceptible to anti-competitive, monopolistic pressures as were the railroads in their day.