|Net “Neutrality” – Government’s Newest Takeover Plan and Corporate Welfare for Google|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, September 24 2009
Amid the blizzard of governmental hyperactivity since Obama’s inauguration just eight months ago, it’s understandable that disoriented Americans remain unfamiliar with the looming threat known as Net Neutrality.
Understandably, the current healthcare debate alone consumes a great deal of Americans’ focus and opposition. After all, lives are literally at stake in that battle. In addition to healthcare, the onslaught of “stimulus” bills, record-breaking budgets, federal bailouts, industry takeovers, tax increases and global warming bills create a flurry effect in the minds of voters.
Who can even keep a tally of these unprecedented invasions?
Net Neutrality, however, is an issue that deserves our attention.
As people begin to understand the nature of federal Net Neutrality regulation and what’s at stake, it will become clearer that it would do to the Internet what ObamaCare would do to the healthcare sector.
On Monday of this week, Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Julius Genachowski called for new federal Net Neutrality regulations to dictate Internet traffic rules for service providers and operators. In other words, the very enterprises that brought us constant Internet innovation and invested tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure and wireless buildout are the Obama Administration’s latest target. Instead of consumers and private service providers choosing for themselves which delivery model best suits their individual needs in the real world, the government would arrogantly determine the method by which consumers can obtain online access.
To justify this latest governmental intrusion into our lives, Net Neutrality advocates constantly claim that Internet service providers are somehow waiting patiently to spring their sinister grand scheme of blocking consumers’ access to various hypothetical websites. They never seem to explain, of course, how we’ve enjoyed two decades of constant Internet growth without experiencing any such rash of oppression.
Never mind that no problem exists, they say – the time to act is now. Not only must we not let a crisis “go to waste,” we shouldn’t even wait for that crisis to actually exist before using it to justify more government oversight of our lives.
Thus, just like climate-change alarmists, Net Neutrality advocates irrationally warn of some speculative disaster that always seems to be just over the horizon. Rather than wait for some problem to take form before imposing suffocating bureaucratic regulations, they warn, we must act now against this non-existent threat.
In reality, of course, market forces would punish any Internet service provider that attempted to block consumer access or otherwise discriminate. With the wide array of carriers and means of access, consumers would drop any provider that committed such transgressions.
Simply put, Net Neutrality advocates can cite no rational basis for this new and potentially destructive regulatory invasion. By creating unnecessary new rules, the federal government will only remove the incentives for service providers to experiment with different delivery models to prevent Internet disruptions and improve capacity.
Further, this FCC scheme constitutes corporate welfare on behalf of such behemoths as Google and AOL. To date, these companies have been free riders on the Internet infrastructure created and paid for by service providers. Among other things, it is well-established that 20% of users create 80% of traffic, which necessitates consideration of different delivery models to address the problem. Rather than have their own business models disrupted by the possibility of actually having to pay a fair share for eating up disproportionate shares of capacity, companies like Google demand that the government insulate them.
In our current downturn, the telecommunications sector has actually remained one of the healthier sectors of the economy. Additionally, wireless and broadband innovation continues at a frenetic pace. By imposing Net Neutrality regulations for the first time, however, the federal government threatens all of that. Its advocates seek an expedited timeline, just as ObamaCare advocates sought to impose that scheme before Americans had an opportunity to understand its consequences.
We haven’t allowed that to happen with healthcare, and we cannot allow it to happen with Net Neutrality.
Although this issue hasn’t received the attention that it deserves, Net Neutrality is a term with which Americans must become familiar before it’s too late.
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