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Net Neutrality: regulations looking for a problem that doesn't exist

[crossposted from my fledgling weekly live call-in show at PeterKay.Com]


I've been loosely following the Net Neutrality (NN) issue for some time now and when I first heard about the general concept (which was that ISPs cannot discriminate IP traffic, i.e. packets are packets regardless of their payload) I was in favor of it. However, as I "matured" and learned more about the general ideas of free markets and government regulation, I grew increasingly against Net Neutrality (NN).

The recent FCC actions to regulate the Internet have driven me to come out AGAINST Net Neutrality. I'm not sure how much interest there is so I'll start with only a few bullets outlining my position and if this heats up I'll continue the dialog. Here's why I'm against it:

  • What's the problem? NN is a regulation looking for a problem that currently does not exist.
  • FCC's authority is dubious. FCC legitimized its oversight of the Internet by classifying it as a "telecommunications" infrastructure thereby falling under its regulatory authority over telecom carriers, something that goes back to the '30s.
  • Where's the track record? Show me a single industry that has thrived and innovated at more efficient levels after they have become regulated: you can't. I read through Woz's bizarre post to "Keep the Internet Free"; he laments about the past where the telecommunication regulation made it illegal for you to own your own phone instrument (if you were alive in the '60s, you'll note that the phone company charged you extra to have multiple working outlets in your home). So what does Woz ask for? Government regulation!
  • No more camel noses! There is no doubt in my mind that the FCC's regulation of the Internet is just the start. More regulations will inevitably come down the road, many of them fraught with political gamesmanship.

That's it for now. I await your responses. I also recorded a CinchCast for more of a stream-of-consciousness audio post for those that want to hear it instead of read it


update: this article from the Wall Street Journal echoes my opinion and has some of what feel is disturbing background.

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Comment by Cameron Souza on December 22, 2010 at 6:23pm
I agree. If a company like Google wants to prioritize, for example, video from youtube on broadband networks they (or their partners) are operating, who is the FTC to tell them they can't?


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