Net Neutrality May Be Even Worse Than You Think
Entrepreneur Magazine called it a “huge regulatory shift”.
Well, that it is. Last Thursday, the FCC voted to enact net neutrality. The full extent of these new regulations isn’t known yet. They aren’t sharing with anyone. The chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, refused to give testimony on the regs to congress before the vote. We won’t know exactly what the regulations contain until they are published in the Federal Register. They then become the ‘law of the land’, so to speak, 30 days from the date published.
The two lone Republican's on the FCC Committee, Ajit Pai and Mike O'Rielly have both sounded the alarm. From The Guardian last week:
Pai and fellow Republican FCC commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who have been consistent critics of the FCC’s new rules, said once they are published people will realise that they will stifle innovation and lead to taxes and increased rates for the public...'When you see this document, it’s worse than you imagine,' said O’Rielly at a conference in Washington organised by the think tank TechFreedom.
What you’ve been told is that net neutrality will only make the internet more accessible, more open. Supposedly, it will stop companies like Comcast, for example, from throttling the internet, filtering legal content or slowing things down. I’m not a big fan of the major telecoms. Like most of you, I’ve had dealings with Time Warner, Dish, DirecTV and a couple others. Both Time Warner and Dish offer high speed internet. The customer service experience is usually not great, but I've had no real issues with my service from a capability standpoint. Everything I've wanted to needed my internet to do, it has done 98% of the time. Nothing or no one is absolutely perfect.
I think we can all agree that monopolies are bad and competition is good. Competition is a cornerstone of free enterprise and the free market. So why then do so many people seem so willing to trust the nation’s largest monopoly, the federal government, with the regulation of the internet? I think we’ve been hoodwinked. This is not what the content providers, networks and the FCC have portrayed it to be. There are plenty of arguments to be made that this will discourage investment in new infrastructure, drive up costs for consumers and so on. I see it having even more far reaching effects, such as:
- Unprecedented regulation of a communications platform that has all along been the most open, free, broad and liberated means of communication ever to exist. We are talking about the government here. They don’t understand the meaning of the word restraint. I can point to examples with any federal agency and prove that point.
- More taxes. Again, this is government we’re talking about. The FCC now wants to treat the internet as a public utility. And as sure as the sun rises in the east, the feds are going to tax the hell out of it.
- And last but certainly not least—the internet as you have known it will cease to exist. I personally believe that all of this will lead to a return, in some form or fashion, to a kind of ‘fairness doctrine’, designed to silence conservative voices, first and foremost. For example, virtually any criticism of political leaders may come to be characterized as ‘hate speech’ and will be fiercely regulated if not outright stifled.
Free speech requires a certain degree of privacy to be truly free. The federal government has proven it really doesn’t care about anyone's privacy. So, with the wonderful world of smart t.v.’s and everything interactive, how much snooping will be done via the internet connection inside your home? If it’s not already a part of this new regulatory soup, it probably will be. 'Regulations' have a way of morphing into draconian beasts.
If you think this is crazy talk, stop and consider the lines Washington has already crossed? Did you ever think you’d find yourself or your child being crotch groped in an airport? Did you ever think you’d find that the government has probably recorded many of your phone conversations and captured your text messages, even though you’ve never committed a criminal act in your life? Did you ever think that you’d be forced to buy health insurance or risk being handcuffed by an IRS agent for failure to comply? All of those things are either happening right now, have happened or can happen under current ‘laws’.
It's quite likely that the implementation of these new regulations will face years of court challenges. But all of this is being done by a government agency, not by a vote of the elected officials you’ve put into office. This was done by a majority of….3. At the very least, they’ve set into motion actions that will turn the internet into just another mismanaged public monopoly. But I just don’t think it will stop there.
In the words of Ronald Reagan:
Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
Well, for now anyway.