The FCC and net neutrality

A lot has been said about the FCC’s recent move to change its rules on net neutrality. Much of the criticism includes apocalyptic language and horrific scenarios of the world without the FCC enforcing these rules.

I am admittedly not highly knowledgeable about Internet Service Providers (ISP). But I am suspicious of the idea that they must charge all users the same rate. This is sort of like charging everyone the same for gas when some buy unleaded and others buy premium or plus.

The other thing that I, as an anarchist, ask myself is “Why does the FCC need to be involved? Why can’t the marketplace just function with the ISPs competing with each other for our loyalty?”

I am immediately skeptical of any claim that the government needs to look out for our interests and protect us from corporations. Last time I checked, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and Homeland Security are run by the federal government – and we’re not even talking about other agencies that now equipped with weapons like small paramilitaries.

There is obviously more going on here than meet’s the eye. For one, a lot of critics have talked about this decision as if the evil corporations made it. They either pretend or don’t want to admit that the government is not only involved but has the authority.

Nick Gillespie, the editor at Reason, explains why the real fear is giving the FCC more power:

In fact, the real problem isn’t that the FCC hasn’t shown the cyber-cojones to regulate ISPs like an old-school telephone company or “common carrier,” but that it’s trying to increase its regulatory control of the Internet in the first place.

Under the proposal currently in play, the FCC assumes an increased ability to review ISP offerings on a “case-by-case basis” and kill any plan it doesn’t believe is “commercially reasonable.” Goodbye fast-moving innovation and adjustment to changing technology on the part of companies, hello regulatory morass and long, drawn-out bureaucratic hassles….

I don’t trust the good intentions or dedication to high principle of my local cable company any more than I trust my local congressman with the same. But I trust the FCC even less, especially given the proposed rules’ reliance on vague terms such as commercially reasonable and the promise to adjudicate interventions on a case-by-case basis. At best, it’s a slow-moving government agency with a proven record of clamping down on free expression, attempting to expand its power, and trying to stymie technological innovation. The less power it has to cover the Internet like it tried to cover Janet Jackson’s right breast, the better off we will all be.

Again, I don’t know much about ISPs and bandwidth and similar topics. But when the government makes a decision and critics decry it as a dastardly act of corporations, I can’t help but shake my head.

Obviously if the FCC didn’t exist this wouldn’t even be discussed.

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