Monday, February 16, 2015

What Is Net Neutrality? Essentially, It Is Obamacare for the Web

[An FCC Commissioner in person] is sounding the alarm about an attempted federal takeover of the internet
writes Benny Huang. Ajit Pai
recently received the Obama Administration’s 322-page plan for “net neutrality” and he finds it appalling. He’d like to share his specific objections with the +public but he can’t because the plan is under wraps until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) votes on it.
Would you expect anything less from the most transparent administration in history? Secret plans to regulate the internet are circulated among the unelected members of a commission, who then make huge decisions with ramifications that will be felt around the globe, and we’re not allowed to know what they’re considering until the decision has been made. Par for the course.
 … Those of us who are … skeptical tend to see “net neutrality” as little more than a government takeover of the internet, something Washington has been itching to do for years. All they needed was an excuse and finally they’ve found it. Capitalizing on a popular and not necessarily unfounded distrust of corporations, the government will seize control of the freest, most egalitarian means of communication known to man…and strangle it with regulation. 
Surely, you wouldn’t want ISP’s to prioritize search results for a fee, would you? Just empower the government to protect you from this huge problem that you probably didn’t even know existed and you won’t have to worry.

Supporters of net neutrality are already complaining that dissenters are mere conspiracy theorists steeped in misinformation. Net neutrality isn’t a government seizure of the internet, they argue, it’s simply a set of rules that prohibits corporations from favoring users or content. Call me crazy, but I think that a policy like that could be expressed in a few sentences. Why then is the administration’s net neutrality policy 322 pages long? And why hasn’t it been released to the public?

 … Net neutrality is essentially Obamacare for the web—a government takeover, sold to the public as a means of protecting us from corporations, which is in fact supported by the corporations that are supposed to hate it, which will invariably give us a crappier product at a higher price.
The problem with the internet is that it’s just too liberated for our leviathan federal government to tolerate. People can say stuff on the internet without fear of censorship. They can buy and sell things without paying the tax man. They can organize political movements that the government would rather suffocate. In short, the World Wide Web (WWW) closely resembles the Wild Wild West, and that really scares the control freaks in Washington.

 … The beauty of the internet is that it’s an open space for the free exchange of goods, services, information, and most importantly, ideas. Whatever minimal degradation of that freedom that might result from your ISP providing preferential treatment to paying customers does not merit government intrusion. It’s a red herring anyway—the government doesn’t want to control the internet to protect you from Comcast, a corporation that is already abiding by the supposed principles of net neutrality on a voluntary basis. The government wants to control the internet because it’s in the business of control and it can’t stand to sit idly by while a domain of nearly limitless freedom is permitted to exist.