- Putting Innovation On Hold

Regulation: Rule-making bureaucrats want to force the country's two biggest phone companies to open their Web lines to rivals in the name of competition. The decree, however, would chill progress in the industry.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering forcing AT&T and Verizon to share their high-speed Internet fiber networks with telecom companies that set up small businesses with Web services.

The idea was proposed by Cbeyond Inc., a firm that provides Web-based services to companies that employ fewer than 250 employees. Companies such as Cbeyond use slower Internet links and want access to the faster lines owned by the telecom giants.

The proposal strikes us as a government taking. AT&T and Verizon have invested tens of billions in their infrastructures and should not be forced to give up what's rightfully theirs.

Forcing them to do so would undermine the government's role as the protector of property rights, as well as cripple the American principle of property rights. The damage would be real, not just theoretical. When the government takes private property, it establishes a precedent that allows it to take anything it wants from anyone.

The government forcing business to "share" the infrastructure that they have invested billions in is frightening.

What's next, forcing us to share our homes with anyone the government chooses?