Mark Cuban is Wrong: The "People" Don't Want Net Neutrality, Elites Do


When we last checked in with Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban, he was tweeting about Net Neutrality and worried that "the government will fuck the Internet up."

Yesterdy, Cuban sent out these five tweets on the subject:

1. the speed/quality of our home/phone broadband has improved dramatically. We have new tech/apps/clouds/IOT every day. Its working.

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

2. In my adult life i have never seen a situation that paralleled what I read in Ayn Rands books until now with Net Neutrality

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

3. The "People" want more gov to protect them so they cant be stopped from getting movies/tv shows OTT.That is straight out of Ayn Rand

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

4. If Ayn Rand were an up and coming author today, she wouldnt write about steel or railroads, it would be net neutrality

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

5. Who is John Galt

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 13, 2014

While I agree with Cuban's general take on Net Neutrality—increasing government oversight and regulation of the Internet will make it less innovative and responsive to user desires—he's flat-out wrong about the "People" in this case. They are on his side in the Net Neutrality debate.

Rasmussen Reports recently polled Americans about regulating the Internet in the context of Net Neutrality. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% of American Adults agree the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does radio and television. Sixty-one percent (61%) disagree and think the Internet should remain open without regulation and censorship. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure….

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who regularly go online rate the quality of their Internet service as good or excellent. Only five percent (5%) consider their service poor.

The "People," it turns out, maintain a healthy skepticism toward increasing the role of the government here, and they also show a sort of native understanding of public-choice economics as well:

Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda, with 44% who are Very Concerned. Twenty-seven percent (27%) don't share this concern about possible government abuse, but that includes only eight percent (8%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters said in December 2010 that if the FCC was given the authority to regulate the Internet, it would use that power to promote a political agenda.

Read more here.

(Just to make it clear that there are real limits to the wisdom of crowds, in 2012, 64 percent told Rasmussen that they favor continued FCC regulation of TV and radio.)

Net Neutrality has definitely captured the imagination of the elites, who take for granted that the Internet can only survive and flourish with increased governmental oversight and enforcement of acceptable business practices. Yet even as customers dislike ISPs in general (and industry giants Comcast and Time Warner in particular), they fear the government's involvement even more. There's a lesson there that should be obvious in an age when just 2 percent of us trust the government "just about always do the right thing."

However rotten Comcast and Time Warner can be as service providers, they remain more responsive than the government, if only because they don't wield the same sort of monopoly power.