The New York Times‘ Bits blog has a great piece on the FAA’s inconvenient, outdated and unhelpful rules regarding electronic devices on planes:
Dealing with the F.A.A. on this topic is like arguing with a stubborn teenager. The agency has no proof that electronic devices can harm a plane’s avionics, but it still perpetuates such claims, spreading irrational fear among millions of fliers.
The dumb FAA rules illustrate why we shouldn’t let the government regulate the internet: Government regulations are nearly always outdated and too cautious.
The FAA rules are dumb and continue to be dumb because FAA rule makers have neither the expertise nor the incentive to accurately weigh costs and benefits.
Its employees can’t keep up with the latest communications and aviation technology like employees at device manufacturers, telecomm companies and airlines must. That means rules are doomed to be ill-informed.
Also, incentives for the FAA strongly favor caution. Fully researching the issue or taking risks by allowing some airlines to test in-flight device usage offers little benefit to FAA staff. Yet allowing in-flight devices and seeing passenger safety threatened as a result could threaten funding, power, and end several promising bureaucratic careers. Simply put, the FAA device rules illustrates how regulations are made based on what’s best for regulators, not what’s best for industries or consumers.
This is true of nearly all regulation. Regulators cannot be (and have little incentive to be) as well-informed as the people working in regulated industries. So it follows that the fastest-changing industries are most hamstrung by overly cautious and outdated regulation.
For this reason, whether it’s cybersecurity or net neutrality, it’s easy to see why well-intentioned, seemingly helpful attempts to use government to regulate the internet are doomed to be perpetually ill-informed, outdated and tending toward caution to the detriment of progress and innovation.
Photo by epSos.de.