President Obama threw down the gauntlet Monday with cable companies and Internet providers by declaring they shouldn’t be allowed to cut deals with online services like YouTube to move their content faster.
It was his most definitive statement to date on so-called “net neutrality,” and escalates a battle that has been simmering for years between industry groups and Internet activists who warn against the creation of Internet “fast lanes.” The president’s statement swiftly drew an aggressive response from trade groups, which are fighting against additional regulation, as well as congressional Republicans.
“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme” regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz responded by saying, “In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It puts the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service, and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices for consumers. The Internet should not operate at the speed of government.”
Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com offered seven reasons why net neutrality is a dumb idea…
1. We Already Have Net Neutrality. As a result of competition between internet service providers in the marketplace, ISPs generally do not discriminate against highly-trafficked websites.
2. Some Companies Take Up More Bandwidth Than Others. Were an ISP to push YouPorn to pay fees for its higher bandwidth, consumers of the ISP who did not use YouPorn would be the beneficiaries – they wouldn’t be subsidizing YouPorn. Meanwhile, other ISPs could calculate that they want to absorb the costs of YouPorn in order to carry YouPorn, since YouPorn could refuse to pay the fees to the first ISP. That would be an advantage for the second ISP. In other words, market choices take place, and those can provide options to consumers. Net neutrality would ban such deals.
3. The Government Still Allows Discrimination In Traffic. ISPs inherently have to prioritize traffic. It’s what they do. The government has decided to exempt “reasonable network management” to allow differentiation of traffic – but then defines it ambiguously, leaving it up to the government to determine when an ISP is in compliance.
4. Barriers to Entry Are Created. There is a reason that Google backs net neutrality. Absent net neutrality restrictions, entrepreneurs in their garages would devote significant energies trying to topple Google with the next killer application.
5. Technological Stagnation. Comcast and AT&T and the like are using ancient wires to transmit internet. That’s why internet access is so slow in large swaths of the United States. They have no incentive to upgrade their wiring because they have monopolies on that wiring, thanks to the government. Net neutrality does nothing about the real problem with the internet: lack of speed.
6. Internet Taxes Could Happen. Harold Furchtgott-Roth of Forbes writes that by making the internet subject to the strictures of the interstate telecommunications industry, the FCC could impose fees on internet service.
7. Content Restrictions From The Government. The government promises that it will use the power of net neutrality for good, not evil. But just like the government’s once-infamous Fairness Doctrine, the notion of the government determining what equal access to the internet looks like is deeply problematic.
SOURCES: FoxNews.com, FoxNews.com, Breitbart.com.