Instapundit on Net Neutrality

Glenn Reynolds, law professor and blogging heavyweight, was asked by the FCC to weigh on the agency's "Open Internet" proposals related to Net Neutrality. Here's a snippet:

The power to control communication leads, more or less inevitably, to the tendency to control communication in ways that advantage one’s own political faction seems to me indisputable:  It is, after all, the reason for the First Amendment.  One reason why content distribution over the Internet has done so well has been, to put it bluntly, that the government has had nothing to do with it.... A cynic might conclude—and, in my experience, the “cynics” in such matters are almost always right—that over time “neutrality” is likely to be redefined in ways that turn out to be something less than neutral.

Instapundit's main message: "The Internet has done very well as a largely unregulated space, and in light of that success, those advocating a shift to regulation should have a heavy burden of proof."

Full statement here.

Sadly, the FCC and gummint more generally probably won't need a heavy burden of proof to do something the screw things up. Recall that it took the Supreme Court to gut virtually all of the Communications Decency Act, which would have really tamped down (at least for some time) the Interweb, this glorious system of tubes that routes around censorship like damaged sectors. Which is to say, the feds have always had an interest in regulating the 'net and won't stop anytime soon. All in the name of life, liberty, and the American way, of course. Here's hoping that we don't look back on the past 20 years, in which cyberspace became a mass phenomenon, as a brief shining moment of freedom.

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  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "Which is to say, the feds have always had an interest in regulating the 'net and won't stop anytime soon."

    And with this new batch of criminals in power, it's almost a sure thing.

  • JB||

    Fuck the government and fuck anyone who works for the government.

  • ||

    the FCC consults Glenn Reynolds? wtf?

  • ¢||

    They pretend to.

  • pup||

    speaking of 'brief shining moments of freedom': there was a brief shining moment of freedom in a number of countries like China and Vietnam in regards to facebook access. Now they've blocked it. Well, at least I won't be photo-tagged without my persmission or have people write crazy things on my wall before I can view them.

  • ||

    As if there is any other possible outcome of the government controlling the internet. I recently had a discussion with some co-workers regarding this, and while one person was pretty adamant about "Comcast not fucking me", my point was that you can always change companies (though Comcast has cable monopolies here), or new technologies can be invented that kill monopolies, but once the government gets its hands on something...it's forever.

  • ||

    The Internet has done very well as a largely unregulated space, and in light of that success, those advocating a shift to regulation should have a heavy burden of proof."

    What he ignores is that up until Bush's FCC (under Michael Powell) a few years ago (around 2003), the Internet was working under common carrier regulations.

    The Internet has done so well up to this point is because of those common carrier regulations. Otherwise the Internet would be a bunch of walled off networks (like prodigy and AOL)

    But let's not let facts get in the way of a good anti-regulatory narrative.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    This net-neutrality thing isn't the main issue, Tom... it's about government becoming the gateway for ALL information.

    Just like Hillary wanted, way back in the early Nineties.

    That's what this article should be about. The party in power would love to be able to control what gets said on the internet - and right now, the Dems have all the power.

  • Thanks||

    Thank you, ChicagoTom. To try pimping out Net Neutrality as some totalitarian plot is as absurd as saying Obama hates America because he's pulling our troops out of Afghanistan.

    Some of us don't enjoy corporate dictatorship, either. For the rest of you, grow the fuck up.

  • ||

    Ah, a net neutrality hyper-partisan, rational as always.

  • Thanks||

    I never claimed to be rational. But if you want to aim for that, I'd suggest looking at Net Neutrality as something that might be a bit to complex for the Business-GOOOOD-Government-BAAAAD filter. This just doesn't fit in that hole.

  • robc||

    Who said business good?

    Government bad is enough reason to oppose net neutrality without assuming anything at all about business.

  • Jordan||

    The nice thing about businesses is not that they're always good (they're not), it's that you can avoid the bad ones if you choose.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And you would be in the Government-GOOOOD category?

  • JB||

    Speaking of holes, you sound like someone who likes all government, all the time, in every hole.

    Sick fucker.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    There's always some kind of plot, Thanks; each individual plot may not be totalitarian, but most of them serve towards attaining that goal.

    Or do you trust Republicans more than the current crop of criminals who replaced them?

  • ||

    I trust Comcast to shepard and maintain a stable network far more than I do the FCC and I *hate* Comcast.

  • ||

    The Internet has done so well up to this point is because of those common carrier regulations. Otherwise the Internet would be a bunch of walled off networks (like prodigy and AOL)

    Well, I'm convinced. What does some so-called "law professor" know anyway?

  • ||

    Read Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother"; just because the gummint tries to regulate and control the net, doesn't mean we have to listen to them. Just because they make a law against encryption, doesn't mean we have to stop encrypting.

  • Thanks||

    Also, nice job bringing nationalist neocon hacks into the freedom-fighter fold. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, eh, Reasonoids?

  • Barack Obama||

    Yes, my minion. Go and spread what I have taught you. You're doing My Work. Great shall be your reward when I pass My Judgement upon your unworthy head.

  • G Mc||

    "The Internet has done very well as a largely unregulated space, and in light of that success, those advocating a shift to regulation should have a heavy burden of proof."

    Seems reasonable to me. Then again, I'm always a sucker for legal language.

  • strat||

    I can see this one from both sides. I sat in the NOC (network operations center) of one of the largest early ISPs. I've long been committed to preserving privacy for users of the Internet, and worry that some of these "management" techniques may carry privacy invasion as an unintended consequence.

    I also have grave reservations about increasing Federal regulation and the often wildly inconsistent state/municipal attempts to apply regulation to the Net.

    At the same time, it's clear that some ISPs have already used traffic filtering in anticompetitive ways. (e.g. the ISP that blocked access to VOIP services that weren't its own)

    I think a basic rule that says providers must clearly disclose what traffic they block, filter, shape or prioritize over other traffic would be a great empowerment to the consumer. The FCC/FTC should see how that works before they get into it further. (I'm still not clear on the constitutionality of the FCC's regulation of this at all.)

    I am a picky bandwidth purchaser and I find myself sometimes having to purchase "business" service because it's the only way to get unfiltered connectivity from many providers. Conversely, as a security professional, there are good reasons to do certain basic filtering for home/consumer connections. It is however inexcusable to do so without clearly conveying the details to the customer.

    Finding the specifics of filtering for home cable ISPs is reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the zoning plans were "on display" in the basement bottom drawer of a dusty filing cabinet covered by other objects. In this case, it's buried on "support" pages in a website that one can't access unless they're a current customer of that particular provider. It's often impossible to access the information in a pre-subscription situation.

    I don't like government mandates, but I don't like vendors who skulk around behind their customers' backs.

    I don't often read nutrition labels on food packaging, but I'd read traffic shaping disclosures on ISPs' sales sites.

  • ||

    Color me mildly surprised. Reynolds has often seemed to me to be at least somewhat warm to the idea of net neutrality. What's not to like about the general idea of equality (of packets not just people)? It is especially hard to go against that when the infrastructure has grown up with monopoly providing local governments.
    Limitations aren't the final answer, though. It may be painful in the short term, but these businesses need to be able to make stupid mistakes in order for competing technologies to take hold; and if they don't, it wasn't a problem to start with.

  • ||

    The Leftitarians rumbling on Net Neutrality is actually amusing.

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