What Would We Do Without the FCC to Take Care Of Us?


The Boston Globe's editorial board is worried that the Google-Verizon policy framework, if implemented, "would leave American Internet users without a federal agency keeping their service providers honest." Really? I'm not aware of any provision in the proposal that would allow Internet service providers to mislead consumers. But if any ISP decided to lie to its customers, then the Federal Trade Commission, which polices advertising and consumer fraud, would probably still be more than equipped to handle those cases. Now, the FCC has investigated whether ISP speed claims—especially those that use the phrase "up to" such-and-such a speed—are typically accurate. But if that's the problem, then the debate we should be having is about how ISPs might best disclose their speed and bandwidth offerings.

So it's clear that dishonesty isn't what the Globe is actually worried about. Instead, its writers fear the prospect of web enhanced service deals between web content providers and Internet infrastructure. It's an exaggerated version of the same concern I noted yesterday—that companies like Google (which owns YouTube) might pay an ISP for smoother, speedier delivery of its content. This is the noteworthy threat of a world without FCC-enforced Net neutrality? That we might need a federal agency to stop some companies from paying for faster delivery on data networks? Let's hope The Boston Globe's editorial board never finds out that some of us pay UPS for overnight delivery service.