Net Neutrality: Who’s flying this thing?

At first glance, the notion of Net Neutrality seems like a no brainer. It solves all sorts of speed and service issues with one large command from a regulatory body, specifically the FCC. But this spring a court ruled that the FCC did not have the authority to regulate providers. The FCC argues that net neutrality is necessary to ensure that providers don’t favor certain net content over others. They stand behind the proposal that such practice would unfairly limit certain web content that companies deemed “unworthy” to play so to speak. The members of the committee to set regulations over providers seem to fear that if they do not step in, that competition can be squashed and markets controlled unfairly. Truly, I say that regulating net neutrality works in theory, but in practice, it will kill the open market competition it seeks to save.

It will all start with an appeal that will overrule the initial decision against the FCC. There will be big headlines and a declaration of victory for the people. Regulation with begin to put standards in place that require paperwork, inspections, fees, fines, and a little old fashioned cronyism to meet. The companies that were willing to provide what the big guys weren’t will no longer have an edge and will be put into situations where the cost of existing and operating legally will outweigh the profit generated due to their small size. Only the big boys will be able to handle the change leaving a handful of options available to consumers. At this point, the FCC can point to the wonderful uniformity as a sign of their incredible ability to make the internet better through regulation. They will continue to push a “for the people” campaign that will lead to more regulation for “the common good”. Rules and laws will be set in place that regulate access, content, and authority in all web matters. A government agency that is most decidedly influenced by peer groups and money will be in charge of one of the most powerful tools mankind has ever seen. FCC regulators will have the able to take power and freedom away from individuals and put it back in the hands of those who can afford to pay to play. The internet allows for nobodies to be somebody overnight in a myriad of ways. But those in power do not want that to be the case. They want you to be able to buy, sell, watch, and do what they deem appropriate in ways that they see fit, but they do not want you to become the big boy.

The theory being preached has rarely been the problem with those in power in the western world. The practice, however, has been terrible. Communism is good in theory as well as world peace, and laissez faire capitalism and free candy. A problem occurs in each of these when the practice comes into place. When we have asked mankind to practice what they preach, historically, they tend to come up with things like breadlines, Berlin walls, and proposals for laws that would allow certain African nations to kill homosexuals if their sexuality were discovered. It is amazing that, especially in the United States, we have the Stockholm Syndrome like Smokey Robinson’s love had a hold on him (and we never talk about our clown tears). We have fallen in love with an abuser that keeps saying they only hits us because they love us. “This is for your own good baby” they may say only to hurt us again and again.

Minor grants of authority tend to lead to large scale abuses when it comes to corporations and government because both have monetary interests put before those they would claim to serve. If the FCC gets to put its foot in the water in will eventually jump in cannonball style. And we all know how long cannonball waves last. Am I a little paranoid? Ok, yes. Fair enough. But doesn’t the FCC have a track record of abuses? Don’t they already control a huge portion of our lives? I rest my case.

2 thoughts on “Net Neutrality: Who’s flying this thing?

  1. Service providers generally adopt the concept of “walled gardens:” a customer pays admission to the network, and is subject to the prioritization rules of that provider. Where the free-market model breaks down is when you have only a few broadband providers serving an area that all enforce different, strict access policies. The market, in effect, can’t choose an ideal provider. Think of Comcast enforcing a more stringent rule than its 200-GB-a-month policy. One could turn to AT&T DSL for continued connectivity, but perhaps they started prioritizing traffic to Yahoo last month, and Google access is slow as hell. It’s likely that only dialup providers remain, if one resides in the same area that you and I do.

    I do agree the time is wrong for the FCC to do something. Service providers aren’t doing the sorts of things I’m describing above. Don’t fix what ain’t broken.

    • Well said. The thought process is a little too open at this point. The rules won’t be solid enough to make a positive difference and they most likely will be abused by a government who is behind the times technologically speaking anyway.

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