Ever since Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that he wants to reclassify broadband as a Title II common-carrier service, the net neutrality debate has heated up.
FACT: Title II of the Communications Act was crafted in 1934 to regulate monopoly providers of voice services. Title II would essentially impose landline-style regulations on Internet providers that could include price regulation, service quality controls, and technological mandates. The non-discrimination requirements applicable to Title II services would deny providers the flexibility to enter into voluntary business agreements to help recover the costs of building next-generation networks. Instead, these additional costs will be forced onto consumers, ultimately discouraging broadband usage and expansion.
These onerous regulations have no place in broadband. More regulation will mean less investment in broadband networks. As initially determined by Congress in 1996, and affirmed repeatedly by the FCC the Supreme Court, broadband Internet access services are “information services” and no changes in the facts or circumstances could justify a different conclusion. In fact, because the lines between networks, services and devices continue to blur and innovation flourishes, Congress prohibited the application of old-school, Title II regulations to information services.
FICTION: Free Press says “Net Neutrality means that nobody – not the cable and phone companies, and not the government – can choose winners and losers on the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission is simply pursuing a path that will ensure that the free market works for the American public, something that prior FCCs failed to do.”
FACT: The federal government will definitely choose winners and losers by telling cable and phone companies what they can allow through their networks and ultimately how much they can charge.
FACT: The FCC will have to create a bureaucracy to “monitor” the Internet.
FICTION: This will be cost neutral.
FACT: Creating any new bureaucracy costs taxpayers money.
Net Neutrality sets a precedent that would allow the federal government to continue to shape the content and use of the Internet. The Internet has successfully flourished because of the lack of governmental influence and that “hands-off” policy must be allowed to continue in order to help expand the economy. Government-imposed restrictions in China show how one Internet regulation leads to another.
The Internet started out as a fun diversion into a thriving business tool that has also been the catalyst for political change around the globe. There is no need to kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.