Good Riddance to “Net Neutrality” Rules
Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission repealed the “net neutrality” rules it had enacted in 2015. As a reminder of why “net neutrality” is a corrupt concept, here’s a passage from a 2006 op-ed, “Net Neutrality vs. Internet Freedom,” by former ARI fellow Alex Epstein:
America’s leading Internet service providers (ISPs) have spent many years and billions upgrading their transcontinental networks, which constitute the backbone of the Internet. Now they are eager to profit by offering new, compelling services. One plan is to give certain websites high priority on their data, so as to guarantee “quality of service” — the speed, frequency, and reliability with which data is delivered. This would enable content providers to offer high-quality live TV and videoconferencing or advanced remote medical monitoring, without the delays and unreliability that plague the Internet today. Unfortunately, data prioritization is fiercely opposed by advocates of “Net Neutrality,” who claim paradoxically that freedom and innovation demand that companies not be free to make this innovation.
Net neutrality is the idea that ISPs should not be able to favor some types of data over others; their networks must be “neutral” among all the data they carry. Net-neutrality supporters claim that if ISPs are free to give preferential treatment to certain websites’ data, they might drastically slow down un-favored or less-wealthy websites, diminishing their ability to offer content and make innovations. A prominent net-neutrality coalition cautions: “If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you may be impeded from providing the ’next big thing’ on the Internet.”
But such scenarios are nonsensical. For any of the nation’s competing ISPs to offer customers slow, patchy, let alone nonexistent access to the websites they seek to visit, would be commercial suicide. As for innovation, websites are free to continue using standard, non-prioritized Internet service. The fact that this would be slower than premium service does not mean that it would be slow, just as UPS’s decision to offer overnight delivery did not lead them to suddenly degrade their Ground shipping. Premium Internet services would enable, not stifle, innovation, by giving websites creative options they did not have before.
The specter of ISPs offering glacial access to certain websites is a smokescreen, designed to obscure the net-neutrality movement’s goal: preventing anyone from having superior, unequal access to customers.
Be sure to read the whole article here.
And check out Steve Simpson’s discussion, “Net Neutrality Neuters the Internet”: