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)
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The D.C. Circuit Court recently threw out the Barack Obama Administration’s huge 2010 Internet power grab – the all-encompassing uber-regulation known as Network Neutrality.
The Left has since been giving birth to herds of live bovines.
Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality. This could be the end of the Internet as we know it.
More than a little overwrought. The ruling is now almost two weeks old – and the Internet is only better, stronger, faster. Which is utterly unsurprising. It’s been dazzling us for nearly thirty years without government-imposed Net Neutrality – we were only hobbled with it for three.
The first commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) emerged in the late 1980s. Congress in 1996 last addressed Tech law with the Telecommunications Act – in which they said the Internet was so new and nascent, they would leave it alone.
Net Neutrality was created out of whole cloth in 2003 – when the private Web was already at least fifteen years old. And had been all along growing exponentially.
And it continued throughout the 2000s to be an ever-expanding free speech-free market Xanadu – all without government-imposed Net Neutrality.
Did that stop the Left from all along the way freaking out? Of course not.
Communications regulators over the next decade will spend increasing time on conflicts between the private interests of broadband providers and the public’s interest in a competitive innovation environment centered on the Internet.
If comments like that don’t tell you why principles of net neutrality must be codified, then I don’t know what will.
“It’s time for the FCC chairman to stop dithering….(T)he FCC must enact Net Neutrality rules that safeguard the open Internet for all users, no matter how they get online.”
Post-removal of government-imposed-Net-Neutrality, we will get even more of the same Internet extraordinariness we got pre-government-imposed-Net-Neutrality – the Left’s histrionics notwithstanding.
Only now they want the government to overreach further still
The Progressive response? Go back in time to 1934 (and even before) – and impose landline telephone (Common Carrier) regulations on the Web. The government regulates the daylights out of landlines – so Progressives want the government to jam the Web in there too. Which would allegedly allow them to reimpose Net Neutrality – and tax the Net, and…. This move is called Reclassification.
The Left’s justifications for this are at best uber-flimsy.
ISPs still piggyback to a great extent on a government-built core infrastructure – thus the Common Carrier telephone regs should apply to the Internet.
A common carrier was when “Ma” Bell was a government-imposed landline phone monopoly, and everyone was forced to use them. Bell received a monopoly in exchange for adhering to the additional stifling regulations.
On the Web we have a free market-produced wide array of ISPs – myriad companies delivering service on multiple platforms (cable, wireless, satellite, etc). No one is everyone’s “common carrier.”
ISPs have spent more than $1 trillion building the Web – they left “common carrier” regs in the dust hundreds of billions of dollars ago.
And the ISPs have over the years paid enough in taxes to buy outright a hundred (a thousand?) times over the government-funded infrastructure.
This would be like me saying I once lent Bill Gates $20, so I should have oversight over his entire fortune.
The industry is dominated by a few big companies, so oversight is needed to ensure that abuses are reduced.
There are already laws to protect consumers from unfair Internet business practices – under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and to a lesser extent (God help us currently) the Justice Department. Should an ISP block content, existing law would have the FTC and Justice raining down upon it.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Net Neutrality would be totally redundant – in addition to being destructively preemptive rather than reasonably responsive to problems as they arise.
Especially when only four such instances have arisen – ever. All of which were resolved by the respective parties – without any government involvement whatsoever.
You know what protects us from private companies? The freedom to choose. If Comcast is blocking you, you can fire them and hire Time Warner. Or Cox. Or Verizon. Or AT&T. Or Sprint. Or T-Mobile. Which is why Comcast won’t block you.
The only monopoly in this discussion is – government. See: schools, postal service, passenger trains,…. And how are those services doing? Compared to how the Internet is doing inprivate hands?
And the Left wants to invite in the incompetent former to preemptively, prophylactically lord over the dazzling latter? Thank you, no.
Instead of going back to the Great Depression and imposing those fabulous policies,…:
Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) say it’s time to bring the 1996 law, which governs the nation’s communications networks, into the 21st century.
We can write a new, updated, forward-looking, free market law – or Michael J. Fox our way back to the Depression and crush the Internet with a huge, antiquated, completely inapplicable regulatory superstructure.
Said new law would (amongst many other things) (hopefully) prevent any more absurd, obnoxious government overreach power grabs.
Like beginning to regulate (and tax) the Internet like we once did a rotary telephone – or the one Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor had to ask Sarah to dial for him.
[Originally published on PJMedia]