Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will Net Neutrality Save or Destroy the Internet?

What do the FCC, the UN, Hugo Chavez, the Chinese government, the Pakistani government, etc. all have in common? They all want to control the flow of information on the internet, and in many cases this means censoring the voices of dissent.

But does the internet need saving? Most people would say no, that it is refreshing not to have the big hand of government stifling innovation, creating barriers, picking winners and losers and even choosing which content is "acceptable" and "unacceptable."

In late December, Julius "Seizer" Genachowski steered the FCC along a straight party line vote to adopt his net neutrality doctrine.  Their authority to take this action will surely be challenged again in court since Congress has not explicitly granted them this power and they have already lost a case in the US District Court in DC.  

Proponents try to make net neutrality sound innocuous. Its stated goals are:
  1. A free and open internet is the single greatest technology of our culture, and control should not be at the mercy of corporations.
  2. A free and open internet stimulates competition.
  3. A free and open internet helps prevent unfair pricing practices.
  4. A free and open internet promotes innovation.
  5. A free and open internet is more trustworthy and honest.
  6. A free and open internet drives businesses.
  7. A free and open internet protects the freedom of speech.
However, when has the government not politicized and totally mucked up anything that it has touched?  I wasn't born yesterday and am not naive enough to fall for this line of reasoning.  The internet is as free and open as it is ever going to be just as it is today.

I expect net neutrality to be used as a cover to: 1) impose federal taxes on internet connections similar to today's wireline phone bills, 2) give the ISPs cover to implement a tiered pricing system based on usage, 3) protect the cable TV companies from IP TV (remember what VoIP did to the wireline telephone), 4) raise prices on internet access in general, and 5) restrict certain types of internet content that aren't politically correct.  Net Neutrality poses as protecting the consumer from the big, bad corporations, but in reality it is protecting the big, bad corporations from the creative destruction of a free and open marketplace.

Anyone who thinks the FCC's intentions are purely honorable need look no further than this BCC interview below with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps:


  1. Oh my gosh, what a waste of tax money (as I am sure that is what would pay for internet policing).

    Maybe Al Gore could write up a quick algorithm to do all the monitoring?

  2. I agree that it is very open right now. Thanks for informing me. I had no idea how this issue could affect me!!!!

  3. A free and open internet controlled by the federal government is an oxymoron.
    "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength"