The Not-So-Neutral Net

My latest column is up at AND Magazine.

Here is an excerpt:

In a matter of hours, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting to implement unprecedented regulatory authority over the Internet. What started out as a debate over a simple law that would prevent Internet Service Providers from requiring fees from content providers in order to get the bandwidth necessary to get their content to end users has morphed into a massive government power grab, with the FCC pushing to regulate the Internet as a public utility. All we know so far is that there are over 300 pages of proposed regulations. Very few (if anyone) outside of the FCC and the White House knows just what those regulations will entail.

Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser, have been pushing a petition encouraging the FCC to pass its new regulatory measures. The petition talks about how “the Web is a global engine of innovation and entrepreneurship – a level playing field from which we can learn, connect and create.” It speaks out against “restricting freedom of choice online” and further states that “there should be no blocking and discrimination of content online.”

But the FCC’s regulations were built in the dark. While we might know at a theoretical level what we want from Net Neutrality, we have no idea what we’ll actually be getting…and if the FCC takes action to regulate the Internet as a public utility, we have no way of knowing what shape that will take in the future. With their petition, Mozilla shows an alarming naivete, blindly assuming that regulations they’ve never seen will do exactly what they want, and won’t morph into something even worse as time goes on. Didn’t we learn this same lesson from Obamacare? Nancy Pelosi told us we had to pass the bill so we could find out what was in it. They passed that bill, and millions of people found out (too late) that they don’t like it. Back then, President Obama told us “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Now he’s saying “If you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet.” We don’t need to fall for the same BS twice.

If you believe that “there should be no blocking and discrimination of content online,” then you should want to keep the government as far away from Internet regulation as possible.

Continue reading here.

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Categories: AND Magazine, FCC, FEC, Obama

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