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Don’t be fooled: Net neutrality is all about cronyism

There are two articles out that go into greater detail as to why Campaign for Liberty is against so-called "Net Neutrality." The first is an excellent article over at Rare that does a good job of explaining one problem with Net Neutrality: cronyism

For years, Internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Netflix have been pushing for network neutrality to avoid paying for the traffic their users hog from ISPs. As it currently stands, Netflix and YouTube account for half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States, often leading to slow buffering speeds during prime hours. As a result, some ISPs have sought to provide better service to their customers by suggesting that the Netflix and YouTubes of the world pay slightly more for their users to stream videos faster — a pretty clear-cut win for customers if ever there was one.

Unfortunately, big businesses too often think about how the government can help their bottom line instead of what’s best for the little guy. As a result of a well-orchestrated media campaign, the FCC is on the cusp of reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act to enact net neutrality so Big Internet doesn’t have to pay its share of traffic. Ultimately, the change would empower the government to regulate the business models of private ISPs, chaining the Internet to one-size-fits all solutions for millions of customers with different needs.

Internet giants love to scaremonger the public into believing that a world without net neutrality would lead to customers being charged different data plans for the amount of internet they use, much like cell phone companies currently do. The problem with this argument is that we already live in this world, and it is largely not the case. Most Internet subscribers pay a monthly fee that entitles them to as much data as they desire, and that will likely not change anytime soon.

The second article in Forbes, addresses another issue that doesn't seem to be making headlines in the Net Neutrality debate: Privacy.

Free speech cannot exist without privacy, and the U.S. government has been shown to be unworthy of guarding the privacy of its citizens. Only the latest revelation of many, Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide reveals that the U.S. government tampers with Internet routers during the manufacturing process to aid it’s spying programs. Is this the organization we trust to take even more control of the Internet? Should we believe that under Net Neutrality the government will trust the telecoms to police themselves?

The government will need to verify, at a technical level, whether the telecoms are treating data as they should. Don’t be surprised if that means the government says it needs to be able to install its own hardware and software at critical points to monitor Internet traffic. Once installed, can we trust this government, or any government, to use that access in a benign manner?

While privacy and freedom of speech may not be foremost on your mind today because you like who is running the government right now, remember that government control tends to swing back and forth. How will you feel about the government having increased control of the Internet when Republicans own the House and Senate and Jeb Bush is elected President, all at the same time?

Americans who believe in free markets should also be concerned with handing regulation of one of the world's most valuable assets over to an incompetent government. Continued from Forbes:

Proponents of Net Neutrality say the telecoms have too much power. I agree. Everyone seems to agree that monopolies are bad and competition is good, and just like you, I would like to see more competition. But if monopolies are bad, why should we trust the U.S. government, the largest monopoly of all? We’re talking about the same organization that spent an amount equal to Facebook’s first six years of operating costs to build a health care website that doesn’t work, the same organization that can’t keep the country’s bridges from falling down, and the same organization that spends 320 times what private industry spends to send a rocket into space.

Let’s try a thought experiment–think of an industry that has major problems. Public schools? Health care? How about higher education, student loans, housing, banking, physical infrastructure, immigration, the space program, the military, the police, and the post office? What do all these industries and/or organizations have in common? They are all heavily regulated or controlled by the government. On the other hand we see that where deregulation has occurred, innovation has bloomed, such as with telephony services. Do you think we’d all be walking around with smartphones today if the government still ran the phone system?

 


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