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.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
The relatively brief history of the Internet – is a quarter-century visual aide of how the Left looks to over-regulate things.
The Left always wants…more. They are the Oliver Twist of regulations.
So let’s not hand them the keys to DC next Tuesday, eh?
Simplistically but accurately speaking, the Internet was privatized in the 1990s. A Republican Congress wrote a telecommunications bill – basically leaving it regulation-free. Which Democrat President Bill Clinton signed into law.
So the baseline for regulation was – none. A concept that, of course, never sat well with the Left.
Once it became clear how incredible and incredibly huge the Internet could and would be – the Left started looking for ways to dig government’s hooks into it – so it could then begin reeling it in.
Because there was simply no way We the People should be allowed to have that much speech and economic freedom.
The Left then spent the next half-decade trying to get Congress to pass a law imposing Net Neutrality. That was a huge no-go – even after the Democrats took the majorities in 2006.
Then came the very unfortunate Barack Obama Administration. Which unilaterally imposed Net Neutrality in 2010 – which the courts dumped. So it imposed an even worse, more virulent strain of Net Neutrality in 2015 – which the ensuing Donald Trump Administration thankfully undid.
But you’re noticing the Left’s Oliver Twist-ian regulatory ratchet upward – always upward. It’s never less regs – always more.
Speaking of Leftists and regulatory insanity – behold California. Which in September passed a law imposing Net Neutrality – that makes Obama’s second Net Neutrality look like very thin gruel indeed. (Please forgive the continued Twist-ian references.) Upward – always upward.
The Administration in fact – got California to stand down on the law’s imposition until its case is settled. About which Trump Administration Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai rightly noted:
“I am pleased that California has agreed not to enforce its onerous Internet regulations. This substantial concession reflects the strength of the case made by the United States earlier this month. It also demonstrates, contrary to the claims of the law’s supporters, that there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address.”
The lack of urgency of Net Neutrality being demonstrated by – nigh the entire history of the Internet being Net Neutrality-free. All the while it has become a free speech-free market Xanadu – and the greatest and fastest growing thing in the history of humanity.
Like when anything is new, when the Internet was new – it was like being in an unlit, pitch black room full of coffee tables. We didn’t really know where we were going – or what to do.
But we knew what not to do – when we banged our shin on a table. “Well, let’s not do that again.”
Two-plus decades later – we have a much better idea of the Internet landscape.
We better know what requires some government. (See: Dealing with Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon’s MASSIVE abuses of their MASSIVE power.)
What could maybe use some government.
And what absolutely does not need any government at all.
Net Neutrality is definitively in the latter category.
It is a massive new imposition – of a whole lot of additional government.
All of which we have spent the last quarter century – demonstrating is completely unnecessary.