On November 21st FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sent shock waves throughout the internet when he released this Statement announcing an end to President Obama’s misguided and disastrous Net Neutrality. Here are the opening paragraphs from that statement.
For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.
When I read the statement I was quite elated. I knew all of my liberal friends on Facebook would not share my joy, they would be angry and they would express their anger in the form of memes which bore little resemblance to reality. My response was to leave them alone and to share articles setting the record straight about Net Neutrality, which was President Obama’s attempt to make the internet into a socialist utopia.
From the beginning Net Neutrality was misguided because it was based on a lie. In a speech, which was quoted in this Breitbart Article, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described this lie when he said:
Number one there was no problem to solve; the internet wasn’t broken in 2015. In that situation, it doesn’t seem me that preemptive market-wide regulation is necessary. Number two, even if there was a problem, this wasn’t the right solution to adopt. These Title II regulations were inspired during the Great Depression to regulate Ma Bell which was a telephone monopoly. And the broadband market we have is very different from the telephone market of 1934. So, it seems to me that if you have 4,462 internet service providers and if a few of them are behaving in a way that is anticompetitive or otherwise bad for consumer welfare then you take targeted action to deal with that. You don’t declare the entire market anticompetitive and treat everyone as if they are a monopolist.
There was no evidence of widespread price gouging, censorship by ISPs, or other harmful practices prior to the enacting of Net Neutrality. Regulating the internet as a utility was the most overbearing form of regulating the Obama administration could implement. Why did the Obama administration take over the internet through executive fiat? This American Thinker Article sheds light on the primary motivation:
President Obama feared the free flow of information as a threat to his power grabs and attempt to fundamentally transform the United States. Just as cable news eliminated the old guard network’s role as gatekeepers of what we saw and heard, the Internet freed information consumers to seek the truth and speak their minds in an unfettered environment.
Under net neutrality, the FCC took for itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks and how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet, all in the name of providing access to the alleged victims of corporate greed.
Net Neutrality was all about social justice not eliminating harmful practices. According to this Investor Business Daily editorial, Obama’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated purpose for Net Neutrality was:
Genachowski insists net neutrality is designed only to prevent communication giants such as Comcast and Verizon from blocking some websites while favoring others, particularly their own, with higher speeds and better quality. The poor and minorities are shoved aside in the name of profit….
…In the name of providing access to the alleged downtrodden victims of corporate greed, the FCC proposes to take unto itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks, how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet.
According to the same article, Obama’s FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd wrote:
Net Neutrality Is A Civil Rights Issue. Unfortunately, the powerful cable and telecom industry doesn’t value the Internet for its public interest benefits. Instead, these companies too often believe that to safeguard their profits, they must control what content you see and how you get it
The free market, which is the most mighty economic engine yet devised, built the internet. What fuel does the free market run on? Profits are the fuel. It was the quest for higher profits that created the most revolutionary communication medium that ever existed. Competition was what regulated the internet. Government regulation only hinders and destroys. The free exchange of money for goods and services is the most color blind form of social interaction that ever existed.
Net Neutrality has had very negative effects on the internet. Free State Foundation President Randolph May describes these negative effects in this Breitbart article
The FCC’s current regulations, put in place at President Obama’s direction in 2015, constitute a misguided act of regulatory aggression leveled at the dynamic broadband Internet marketplace. It is none too soon to repeal them. Already, there is persuasive evidence that applying a public utility regulatory regime to Internet service providers has slowed investment in new facilities. As demand for Internet services continues to grow exponentially, the nation can ill-afford to risk deterring investment in new high-speed networks.
The moment FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released his statement a wave of outrage swept over individuals from the political left. Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute described the outrage in this Fox News Article
There’s plenty of scaremongering around steps broadband providers could take in the absence of neutrality regulation — blocking off certain sites, or charging extra fees to access certain services — but not a ton of reason to think they would do these things, which would antagonize customers, be technically tricky to enforce against sophisticated users, and invite the re-imposition of regulations.
Major Internet Service providers do make convenient villains in all of this Net Neutrality debate because they are not popular with their customers. A great many believe their ISPs provide lousy customer service and many feel they are overcharged for the service they receive. Why are ISPs able to get away with these unpopular practices? Government regulations at the federal, state, and local levels effectively grant these companies monopolies on the local level. This article from Wired documents how these monopolies are granted and how they limit competition. Repealing Net Neutrality is just the first step to truly freeing the internet. Regulations at all levels must be repealed.