One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
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$20? $40? $80? How much a month extra do you want to pay for your Internet service – so that companies like Netflix and Google don’t have to pay for theirs?
Wait – you’re saying you don’t want to carry these mega-companies? That’s certainly understandable. They likely have a little more disposable income than you do. So how did you get stuck paying their enormous freight?
These huge bandwidth hogs got the government to force you to do so. This mega-cronyism is called Network Neutrality.
Don’t remember Congress passing a law imposing Net Neutrality? You shouldn’t – Congress never did. No law never got within a country mile of passing. In 2010, ninety-five candidates signed a pro-Net Neutrality pledge – all ninety-five lost. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee – the Marxist joint that gathered the signatures – raised less than $300 on it.
That uber-fail came in the midst of a decade-plus long Net Neutrality push – that got them literally nowhere with We the People. So the Barack Obama Administration did what the Barack Obama Administration is wont to do – it imposed Net Neutrality via unilateral fiat.
The President’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pretended to be Congress – and “passed” it themselves. Twice, in fact. They did so in December 2010 – and the D.C. Circuit Court dumped it as beyond the bounds of their legal authority.
Undaunted – because when do the law and the courts ever daunt the Obama Administration – the FCC in February again unilaterally imposed it. And this time, they did so via what is called Reclassification. Meaning the FCC not only pretended to be Congress – they reprised the role of Marty McFly. They went back in time to 1934 landline telephone law. And pretended Congress way back then – meant to regulate the Internet now.
That ridiculous legal rewrite – by non-members of Congress – is currently before the same D.C. Circuit Court. But in the meantime we have to live under this ridiculous regulatory regime.
So how does this absurdity mean you pay to augment the huge profits of Netflix and Google? Behold:
The Federal Communications Commission has sent letters to T-Mobile, AT&T, and Comcast asking for information on programs that allow their customers to stream music, videos, or other content without having it count toward their data cap. The inquiry is a big deal.
Net neutrality advocates argue that these programs violate the commission’s rules, giving a distinct competitive advantage to the apps and services that they let customers use data free; upstarts, they argue, will always fail in comparison. The FCC avoided directly addressing this issue when it established its new net neutrality rules earlier this year, but today’s inquiry suggests that it shares some of these competitive concerns.
Got that? The FCC in its power grab “avoided directly addressing this issue.” Yet it’s dragging in companies for questioning – that “violated”…nothing the FCC power grabbed. Legal and economic uncertainty, anyone?
And why on Earth should what they’re doing be illegal? When it is common business practice in just about every other sector of our multi-trillion dollar economy?
Amazon and a whole host of other companies offer free shipping. Meaning they pay shipping companies to deliver their products – so consumers don’t have to do so. Amazon and a whole host of other companies offer toll-free phone calls. Meaning they pay phone companies for calls – so consumers don’t have to do so. And so on, and so on, and….
And that’s why Netflix and Google (and Amazon, and Facebook, and most of other the major bandwidth hogs) pushed for Net Neutrality. It outlaws their paying for the Internet delivery of their goods and services.
Why on Earth should that be illegal? Amazon pays for shipping and toll-free calls. Why shouldn’t they (be able to) pay for their Internet delivery – so consumers don’t have to do so?
So we consumers will have to do so. Of course we will. Because there’s no such thing as a free launch. Bandwidth costs money – and there are only two sides to pay for it. The data senders (Netflix, Google, etc.) – and the data receivers (us). Outlaw charging the former – and the latter ends up footing the titanic bill.
Thus the pro-Net Neutrality forces must strangle in the crib any inkling of the very reasonable Sender Pays business practice – being practiced on the Internet. Thus these FCC letters. To scare practitioners of the free market – out of practicing like it’s a free market. Because under Net Neutrality – it’s not. Because the pro-Net Neutrality gaggle doesn’t want it to be.
Yet another example of Huge Government Cronyism being outstanding for We the Little People.