Fear Not, Fair Internet

Fear not, fair Internet, for The Government is here:

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski now has the three votes needed for approval, despite firm opposition from the two Republicans on the five-member commission. Genachowski’s two fellow Democrats said Monday they will vote for the rules, even though they consider them too weak.

After a federal court ruled that his Federal Communications Commission could not regulate the internet, Julius Genachowski did what a good Obama appointee does: regulate it anyway.

Yet many supporters of network neutrality are disappointed. Clyburn and the other Democrat, Michael Copps, both said the rules are not as strong as they would like, even after Genachowski made some changes to address their concerns.

You don’t have to be a kook like Michael Copps to worry about providers throttling specific types of content, or charging for services in a way specifically designed to screw customers over. I’ll be the first to say that Time Warner sucks, and though I’m content with Verizon I hardly love ’em. But let’s think about this whole “Net Neutrality” scam for more than fifteen seconds. Time Warner’s monopoly in Oxford was infuriating, so I’m now a happy Wide Open West customer. If I get sick of Verizon, I can dump them for AT&T, or T-Mobile, or Sprint. If the FCC regulates the tubes stupidly, guess what – we’re all stuck with those stupid regulations.

Companies sometimes do bad things. This is a fact that is well established. In some unfortunate circumstances, people have limited options for their home or mobile broadband service. If the FCC could predict trends, regulate wisely, and do more good than harm, that would be one thing. But where’s the evidence that the federal government is competent enough to regulate the industry? Genachowski wants all data to be delivered at the same rate, regardless of the content or how little the customer might be willing to pay for its delivery.

When I think of the government and I think of delivering stuff, I don’t get more optimistic.

Contrast packets of data with items delivered by mail: the USPS conducts business that’s not wildly different from when letters were carried by a dude on a horse. The internet is a global network of networks, supporting the creation of new technologies and businesses every day. The carriers selling access to this web of digital goods and services are continuously developing new ways to provide said access, from varying devices and at a wide range of price points.

Delivering letters is too complicated a process for the federal government. Think they’ll do a better job of regulating the internet? Maybe the USPS is an unfair example. After all, the last time Washington decided to take over a sixth of the economy, it went really well. When bureaucrats decide Americans have a “right” to a product, woe to the industry that produces it!

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