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<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273
Washington, D.C., June 12, 2003—In comments filed this week with the Department of Transportation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues against greater regulation of the computerized systems that travel agents use to make reservations and for allowing the current regulations to expire as they are planned to next year.
“The proposal is a mishmash of rules that increases the Department’s regulatory role in some areas, eliminates it in others, and expands it to reservation systems not controlled by airlines—the latter being a controversial and unwarranted extension of DOT’s regulatory function,” said CEI Technology Counsel Braden Cox. “That extension would needlessly complicate the process of exchanging information about ticket prices and set a dangerous precedent for federal involvement in e-commerce.”
Among other things, the rules would regulate the listing of airline flight data and display of government-imposed taxes and service fees, arbitrarily requiring the itemized display of fees below a certain dollar amount and a lump sum display over a certain dollar amount. This rule would only serve to confuse consumers and effectively hide how much of their money goes to the government versus the airline.
The rules unconstitutionally regulate information sharing and extend DOT’s jurisdiction beyond its statutory authority. “Despite the increased protection afforded by courts to electronic communications since the explosion of Internet usage, DOT does not address the free speech implications of regulating the manner in which reservations systems digitally display information,” said Cox.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.