While at a business summit in China on November 10, President Barack Obama called for government regulation of the Internet in the United States through the so-called “Net Neutrality” principle, as well as turning the Internet into a public utility.
Obama’s strongly-worded message pushes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact regulations that will control and dictate how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) conduct business. Basically, if ISPs need to offer varying levels of speed to online companies to prevent website crashes (think news websites during 9-11), net neutrality forbid its.
Have you ever been to a theme park and chose to buy an express pass so that you wouldn’t have to wait in line for an hour to ride the popular roller coaster? That free market option is available because the theme park recognized an express pass improves the visitor’s experience, increases efficiency, and raises revenues. Those revenues are then used to build more rides, make them safer and more enjoyable, and hire more employees.If net neutrality was applied to theme parks, express passes would not be allowed. The same goes for priority boarding at airports and the express lane at toll booths.
So after flooding the health insurance industry with thousands of new regulations, as well as a federal takeover of local school lunches, Obama is now misusing his authority to influence the FCC, which is supposedly non-political, for even more, big government control.
Consider the four rules he proposed in his statement, which he referred to as “bright-rules.” Bright-rules, themselves, are controversial because they lack the clarity needed to resolve complex issues. Obama’s call for overly simplistic rules exposes his shallow understanding of the Internet.
For example, his bright-rules include no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization, and increased transparency.With no blocking, he’s suggesting that ISPs are blocking customers’ access to websites. That’s not happening and it won’t. ISPs have nothing to gain from it. If an ISP begins blocking websites, then they will lose customers. They don’t want to lose customers.Enforcing a no throttle rule would be a networking catastrophe. ISPs throttle now to ensure a constant flow of traffic. Think of the times you’ve driven away from a sporting event or concert and traffic officers were directing cars through intersections. This is done to move all traffic away from the location as quickly as possible with no crashes. That’s what throttling does. Without, we would experience crashing Internet service.
Paid prioritization would allow some websites to enter a “fast-lane.” As technology continues accelerating, as it has astronomically over the last 20 years, there will most likely be no need for prioritization. But even if so, it’s comparable to the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on interstates. HOV drivers can pay the government a fee to enter the fast lane. If paid prioritization was prohibited, every lane becomes neutral, and interstate commerce would suffer.Transparency, while it sounds good, would require ISPs to share with the government its technological strategies. If those strategies don’t meet FCC-approved guidelines, then the government could add on even more regulations, limiting the innovations that have made the Internet what it is, and raising cost on consumers
Net neutrality is unneeded because it is meant to fix something that’s not broken. Any issues that arise will be corrected by basic economics. But, as with other government intruding regulations, Obama hasn’t let economics stop him before.