The Washington Post

Brookings’s Darrell West: We don’t need a federal Internet agency

Brookings vice president and director of governance studies Darrell West is taking issue with former President Bill Clinton’s suggestion that a federal agency be created to regulate the internet.

Amid controversies over privacy issues involving Facebook, Google and Apple, among others, the increasing risk for consumers is a problem in search of a solution. But West, author of the recently published The Next Wave: Using Digital Technology to Further Social and Political Innovation, says the answer does not lie in a new federal agency.

Why? Mostly because of multiple slow-moving existing federal agencies that couldn’t possibly keep up with the pace of technology, West says:

Technology moves too quickly for the government to control it. Rumors or misinformation can be spread within minutes on the Internet. Seeking to deal with them through a new government agency would stifle innovation and be ineffective to boot. With a crowded government oversight structure that already includes the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Justice, having another agency would dilute existing authority and responsibilities. 

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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