In case you have not already heard, the DC Court of Appeals struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet rules imposed in 2010. Generally known as net neutrality, these rules essentially forbade Internet Service Providers (ISP) from imposing procedures that would limit access or speed for some services. In other words, the ISPs were required to treat ALL content from ANY source as equal and provide equivalent service.
The result of this ruling is that ISPs are allowed to control their own networks so that their capability can match the desired services and the demands made on them. They can even offer tiered levels of service for different prices. This allows the ISP to develop a business model that not only makes the customers happy but also makes a profit and provides funds for expansion and service improvement.
This ruling should be good news to everyone, but there is a faction that favors government control of the Internet. They are not happy and I am sure I will hear from some of them. The interesting thing about this whole net neutrality fiasco is that no one has ever been hurt or helped by these rules. Can anyone give an example where such rules helped? I suppose that you could say that since no one was hurt why not leave the rules in place, just in case. Or if the rules have no effect why impose them in the first place?
What this seems to be all about is the net neut lobby is trying to predict what could happen or what could go wrong. These rules seem to be more focused on future business potential or competition than aiding the consumer. Imagining future problems and making laws to fix them is political and social engineering. It is what government seems to like to do.
Anyway, what will happen now? I suspect the FCC under its latest ruler Tom Wheeler will try again to make some new regulations. After all, isn’t that government’s job? I am hoping that the FCC will leave things alone and work on other problems (e.g. more spectrum) and not focus on the non-problem of an open Internet. Let the Internet remain open as it is now so that it can evolve technologically and economically as companies attempt to serve the consumer but make a few bucks for themselves.
I am not against regulations per se as long as they solve a real problem and benefit the citizens. But when they are arbitrary, imagined, or a power grab, it is not good for us overall. If you ever wondered where our freedom went, just look at the federal, state, county and city governments. They make thousands of new laws each year that fix few and even imagined problems and definitely restrict our actions. Remember what Ben Franklin supposedly said: “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.”