Net Neutrality

The Internet Doesn't Need Saving

But that might not stop House Democrats from Net Neutrality-related histrionics.

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KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom

When Republicans controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, they approved plenty of proposals that were, charitably, unlikely to become law. Obamacare's repeal was ritually advanced dozens of times. Concealed carry reciprocity for handgun owners cleared the House, but opposition from Democrats opposed to Americans' constitutional right to self-defense doomed it in the Senate.

In 2019, it's the Democrats' turn. A vote is scheduled Tuesday morning before a House committee on a proposal to impose Net Neutrality regulations on internet service providers. It's a lead-up to a planned House floor vote tentatively set for the week of April 8.

The bill, H.R. 1644, is grandly titled the "Save the Internet Act of 2019." The problem, of course, is that the internet seems to be sputtering along—even with plastic straw emoji bans, politicians Instagramming their dental visits, and progressive tears over the Mueller report—about as well as it has for decades. That's despite the lack of Net Neutrality rules imposed by bureaucratic fiat and monitored for violations by federal bureaucrats.

Democrats' response has been to double down on apocalyptic rhetoric. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, recently warned that the lack of Net Neutrality regulations could make it "harder to find a job, harder to get the training [Americans] need, and harder for their kids to keep up at school." A bike store in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Pallone suggested, without giving details, could somehow be "blocked from reaching their customers."

At a press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) went so far as to proclaim that "supporting this bill means supporting our democracy."

It's been well over a year since the Trump administration ditched Net Neutrality rules, and no democracy-endangering, bike shop-blocking internet apocalypse has materialized. Instead, over the next year, according to speed test company Ookla's statistics, broadband download speeds rose 36 percent and upload speeds increased by 22 percent. Wireless prices per gigabyte have dropped.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to sway proponents of Net Neutrality regulations: the topic has become almost as sharply partisan as abortion, Obamacare, or that "big, beautiful wall" along the border with Mexico.

As far back as 2014, Donald Trump was calling Net Neutrality an "attack on the Internet" and a "top down power grab" designed to target conservative voices. Then, under President Obama, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed Net Neutrality regulations on the internet by a 3-2 party line vote in 2015.

As Democrats discovered to their dismay, federal regulations imposed by a party line vote can be eliminated the same way. That happened after Trump won the presidency in 2016 and the FCC commissioners flipped to a Republican majority. In 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to return to its policy, dating back to the Clinton administration, of taking a hands-off approach toward regulating broadband providers.

"Even though the FCC couldn't find any evidence of market failure, it turned its back on almost two decades of success," FCC chairman Ajit Pai said at the time. "It imposed upon all Internet service providers, big and small, the heavy-handed regulatory framework designed during the Roosevelt administration to micromanage the AT&T telephone monopoly."

Last October, the Trump administration's Justice Department went even further, and sued California to block a state Net Neutrality law from taking effect.

Broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast may, eventually, censor or block political speech or engage in other miscellaneous skulduggery. If that happens, the Federal Trade Commission already has the authority to put a stop to it. Plus, Pelosi and her progressive activist group allies are sure to highlight any wrongdoing. New Jersey bike shops have little to worry about.

NEXT: About that Campus Free Speech Executive Order

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  1. People who have to have their staffers handle their Twitter accounts think they know how to regulate the Internet. That’s just frickin’ hilarious.

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    1. He is too busy counting his money and flying around in a private jet – – – –

      1. You’re not going to find Manbearpig without money and a private jet.

  2. The advocates for net neutrality are some of the dumbest people alive and dont understand how the internet backbone actually works. Your cat meme web blog doesnt need the same network priority as Netflix.

    1. The Narrative has moved on. It’s no longer about packet quality, it’s about Last Mile equality. The demand is that people streaming Netflix 24/7 must not pay more than your grandma who only posts a daily cat meme to her blog.

      1. Exactly. Data doesn’t come from some imaginary other dimension. The woman who only sends a few e-mails a day uses up far fewer physical and electrical resources than the guy who streams Netflix on three screens all day, and that guy should have to pay more.

      2. Why should any user pay more than the monthly fee they agreed to with the ISP?

        1. why should the government dictate what terms can be in the monthly fee agreement? where’s the compelling interest to butt in?

          1. “where’s the compelling interest to butt in?”

            There’s a grandmother somewhere who uses the internet only to briefly check her email each day. There’s another person streaming Netlfix 24/7. Both are paying their ISPs the monthly fees. where’s the compelling interest to butt in?

    2. “The advocates for net neutrality are some of the dumbest people alive and dont understand how the internet backbone actually works.”

      Turd has been whining about it forever, and he was the idiot who couldn’t seem to understand that the hag running a parallel com system was a bit different than using your private email account for business.

      1. To say nothing of using an email account to disseminate inappropriate “parody” of a distinguished, and highly respected, member of the academic community. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case. Clearly what is need is not any kind of “net neutrality,” but active, aggressive police intervention, based on that crucial legal president, to protect the Internet.

    3. Strange then that many of the top technical experts support net neutrality.

      1. Who, exactly, are these “top men” you are referring to? I want names.

        1. https://venturebeat.com vint-cerf tim-berners-lee and-19-other-technologists pen-letter-asking-fcc to-save-net-neutrality/

          https://www.eff.org/ issues/net-neutrality

          https://qz.com/ 1158328/ what-will-happen-now that-net-neutrality is-gone we-asked-the-experts

          https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu /our-work/topics/ network-neutrality

          https://futurism.com net-neutrality-dead experts-comment

          1. https://qz.com/ 1158328/ what-will-happen-now that-net-neutrality is-gone we-asked-the-experts

            This one is a good read. Not because of what you seem to think it says, the exact opposite really. The top 3 bad things their experts predicted completely failed to happen. Nor have any of the other bad things they predict. The only things that have happened are the good things their experts say wouldn’t happen

            Top tech experts may support net neutrality, but they don’t seem to be business or policy experts, because they got everything exactly wrong. It seems they are just supporting it to be on the progressive bandwagon

            1. It seems they are just supporting it to be on the progressive bandwagon

              Bingo….that and the fact that, for many of them, NN doesn’t really affect their business/tenure one way or the other.

            2. Among those linked are indeed policy and business experts. And several state explicitly that the ISPs are going to go slow, so the consequences will not be immediately apparent. They’re going to boil the frog slowly.

              1. Yes, that’s the “Nothing for now, but just wait” effect from the article I linked.

                The problem with that is its a totally useless observation. You could say it about literally policy at any time, or about the opposite policies. One could equally say it about the NN rules that Obama put in place as well, and that they simply got changed back before the real negative effects came into being

              2. Yes, that’s the “Nothing for now, but just wait” effect from the article I linked.

                The problem with that is its a totally useless observation. You could say it about literally policy at any time, or about the opposite policies. One could equally say it about the NN rules that Obama put in place as well, and that they simply got changed back before the real negative effects came into being

        2. And how did you get from “top technical experts” to “top men”? Do you have a problem with educated and skilled women?

          1. From wikipedia “Many of the major hardware and telecommunications companies specifically oppose the reclassification of broadband as a common carrier under Title II. Corporate opponents of this measure include Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Nokia, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Juniper, D-Link, Wintel, Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Panasonic, Ericsson, Oracle, Akamai, and others.[114][115][116][117] The US Telecom and Broadband Association, which represents a diverse array of small and large broadband providers, is also an opponent.”

            1. Also: “Individuals who oppose net neutrality rules include TCP/IP inventor Bob Kahn,[125][126], Netscape founder Marc Andreessen,[127] Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy,[128] PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin,[120][129] “Grandfather of the Internet” David Farber,[130][131] Internet pioneer David Clark,[132][133] packet switching pioneer Louis Pouzin,[134] MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte,[135] Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri,[136] VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver,[137] entrepreneur Mark Cuban[138] and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

              Nobel Prize laureate economists who oppose net neutrality rules include Princeton economist Angus Deaton, Chicago economist Richard Thaler, MIT economist Bengt Holmstr?m, and the late Chicago economist Gary Becker.[139][140] Others include MIT economists David Autor, Amy Finkelstein, and Richard Schmalensee; Stanford economists Raj Chetty, Darrell Duffie, Caroline Hoxby, and Kenneth Judd; Harvard economist Alberto Alesina; Berkeley economists Alan Auerbach and Emmanuel Saez; and Yale economists William Nordhaus, Joseph Altonji and Pinelopi Goldberg.”

              1. And how did you get from “top technical experts” to “top men”?

                It’s pretty simple really. People who want the government to regulate the internet are no better than those that would regulate the internet, because they believe they know how complex technology and markets work better than everyone else. They’re wrong.

                1. And Mcgoo95, your comment begs the question raised ‘And how did you get from “top technical experts” to “top men”‘. It’s a non-sequitur.

              2. Never said that there weren’t people who oppose net neutrality, so this list doesn’t weigh against my original point. And who would be surprised that market-fundamentalists in the economics game are on board? Not I.

                But Ajit Pai? Seriously? He’s the water carrier for the telecoms who plan to make great profits out of gaming connections.

            2. No doubt. And many of them have rather self-interested reasons for their opposition – as content providers have their self-interests at heart when the support net neutrality. I tried to stick with sources that don’t have profits at stake.

              1. I tried to stick with sources that don’t have profits at stake.

                That’s a stupid requirement considering a good deal (the majority?) of the creation and growth of the internet has been/is being/will be driven by capitalistic motivations.

  3. Jordan Peterson uses this one word that sums up this mindset perfectly — ingratitude. All the leftists I know are extremely ungrateful for everything they have. That they complain about every little thing, not appreciating that they live in literally the best place and time in human history.

    The internet has been the success story of a generation, and improved our world in countless ways. Yet they take all this for granted. What mindset do you have to be in to take one of the greatest successes of human history, and your first reaction to your netflix on demand HD video taking 3 seconds to buffer is to demand regulation to tear it all down.

    1. What mindset do you have to be in to take one of the greatest successes of human history, and your first reaction to your netflix on demand HD video taking 3 seconds to buffer is to demand regulation to tear it all down.

      In their defense, if I could tear down half or more of the FedGov with regulation I would, whether my Netflix video took 3s to buffer or… hey Friends!

    2. Nah, the ingratitude is about your offer to diagnose our mindset. Basically, you’re so far off the beam as to be a self-parody.

  4. What is causing the internet to sputter along is oppressive and ridiculous government intervention of the internet.

  5. The new Net Neutrality is not like the old Net Neutrality. Both are bad ideas, but the old Net Neutrality was a very nerdy thing impossible requiring understanding of how the internet actually works. Hint: It’s not a series of tubes. It was based on the idea that all network packets should be equal in value in terms of delivery priority. Which is a bad idea, but it’s a bit esoteric as to why.

    The new Net Neutrality is different. It wants all content delivered at the same low cost as all other content. No price differentiation in other words. What might possibly make sense for the old Net Neutrality is utterly bonkers for the new Net Neutrality. Streaming video is killing the smaller access providers, but moreover, it’s the idea that someone streaming Netflix 24/7 should pay the same as someone who only checks their email is regressively unfair. Because providers would not be able to charge heavy users more, they would have to charge your grandma’s email-only account to make up for it. Regressive.

    The narrative on the Left is that big corporations will take over the Internet unless they are curbed by the government. But it’s Big Corporation that’s joined with the Left to an advocacy for Net Neutrality. Google, Netflix, Times Warner, Amazon, etc. The smaller providers still left are opposed because it means they’ll be squeezed out to make away for Big Corporation who own both the content, the delivery, and the access.

    1. Here is another way to look at it.

      Suppose I have a pond on my property that I stock with trout and charge people $10/head/day to fish there. Most of them are recreational fishermen, but along comes Buttplug Frozen Foods with a huge fishing net to scarf up enormous quantities of trout at the mere cost of $10 a day, which it then freezes and sells for a nice profit. My stocking costs skyrocket, there are virtually no fish left for anyone else, and other people stop coming and my income drops. So I decide to change pricing to a more realistic fee per pound of fish caught so that those who consume more of the fish I provide (and impose more costs on me and everyone else) pay proportionately more. Buttplug Frozen Foods then complains to Congress that I am violating “fish net neutrality” and should be prohibited from making him pay a price commensurate with the costs he is imposing.

      That’s Net Neutrality in a nutshell.

      1. I don’t think you understand how the market works

        1. No?

          What I am saying is that one consumer of the system is using a disproportionate share of the system’s resources, thereby placing additional costs on the system provider and adversely affecting other users, and then claiming that there is something unfair and unjust about him having to potentially pay a price that reflects his disproportionate share of usage ? essentially asking others to bear the cost of his usage. Isn’t that the effect of net neutrality?

          1. So what you’re saying is that you’re in favor of Netflix paying maintenance fees to Comcast for its bandwidth hogging? Because that’s what got Netflix and its Obama-donor CEO to pimp Net Neutrality in the first place.

      2. Are the trout supposed to represent data? If so, they were never yours to sell in the first place.

        I get that you are advocating for a pay as you consume model of pricing, and are trying to argue against ‘net neutrality’ but your analogy is unfortunately a bucket of fail.

    2. I failed to see the proposal that ISPs can’t charge for bandwidth.

      I want my T1 line now!

      1. T1 will be dwarfed by 5G wireless. why bother?

        1. T1 is already dwarfed by 4G, and pretty much any wired speed

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  7. Well of course the net needs saving.
    Otherwise there may be a river of free speech going on the web.
    No one wants that.

  8. Of course the ISPs aren’t going to hit you over the head with a sledgehammer immediately after their boy inside the FCC implements their rules. They’re going to pull the frog in boiling water trick on you.

    The Internet is now our basic communications infrastructure. It must be regulated as a common carrier in the interest of equity, efficiency, economics, and civil rights.

    1. The Internet is now our basic communications infrastructure.

      I was signing with my kids before they could speak. I was speaking with my kids before they were reading and writing. I was reading and writing with my kids before they were typing and tapping. My kids were typing and tapping (and reading and writing and speaking and listening) to communicate before they were ever aware of the web at large and, even now, they largely aren’t legally allowed to make use of large swaths of the web despite having rather advanced knowledge and understanding about it. They largely figured out on their own that if the house is on fire Twitter is worthless, any VoIP calls they make will only go through so long as the router hasn’t melted, and that the neighbors or even running the several blocks to the public safety (police/fire) building would be a much more reliable source for emergency communications than anything the internet offers.

      The internet is now our basic communications infrastructure the same way McDonalds is our basic nutrition infrastructure. You seem to have been raised on it.

      1. I don’t know what island you live on, but it’s not around here. Professional correspondence is email; schools require on-line research; the financial system of the world communicates by internet as well as the systems that control our electricity and dams and other critical infrastructure.

        1. I don’t know what island you live on, but it’s not around here

          Then you must be posting from a different planet.

          Net Neutrality advocates are morons as a matter of course.

          1. How old are you? Didn’t your mommy ever teach you to keep a civil tongue in your head?

            1. I give question-beggers the respect they deserve.

  9. What on earth is the attraction of anti-net neutrality? We already have outfits like Google and Facebook filtering the content we receive, now you want ISPs to get in on the act of watching over and filtering our activity on the net. A whole new layer of surveillance. Why isn’t Reason pushing something Libertarian like end to end encryption rather than saddling us with yet more snooping.

    1. the attraction is freedom. why regulate something that doesn’t need to be regulated and poses no threat to anyone’s safety?

      1. How does ISP surveillance and filtering make me more free? Does Google surveillance and filtering also make me more free?

    2. Seems like you didn’t read the article.

      1. Did it have anything interesting to say?

  10. concealed carry reciprocity seems like it’s required twice by the Constitution

  11. Reason needs to stop writing about Net Neutrality because no one has bothered to actually understand the issue and they seem to think Agit Pai is some sort of libertarian hero. He’s not, Pai is just a corporate shill giving capitalism a bad reputation by engaging in cronyism.
    Internet service is under monopoly/duopoly control that is backed by the government, mostly with local level laws. Most consumers have no alternative ISP to switch to if they are unsatisfied or cannot afford rates. This means ISP have no reason to have competitive pricing or provide good service. Comcast was rated as worse than the IRS and airlines in terms of customer satisfaction.
    I know Reason is familiar with TechDirt, they had quotes from their writers on the First Amendment. They need to interview Mike Masnik, or have him write a guest column. He is libertarian, and he did not originally agree with Net Neutrality. He changed his mind and makes an excellent case.

    1. It is wholly unsurprising that people whose paychecks come from content producers see the ‘wisdom’ of ‘net neutrality.’

      That’s what this is about – the people who profit from you consuming pixels don’t want you to see the actual cost of receiving those pixels.

      ‘Net neutrality’ creates far too much hidden cost. It’s almost as bad and market distorting an idea as letting businesses
      – but nor individuals – deduct the expense of healthcare insurance.

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  13. The Net Neutrality looks like the counterpart of Article 13 instaured by the European Union.

  14. Funny. Facebook won’t let me share this on Facebook — it violates their community standards.

    1. Strange isn’t it? The people Hell bent on ‘protecting’ your from ISPs doing what Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc are already doing to you don’t seem very concerned about that at all.

      It’s a con.

  15. ” That’s despite the lack of Net Neutrality rules imposed by bureaucratic fiat and monitored for violations by federal bureaucrats.”

    That’s BECAUSE OF the lack of Net Neutrality rules imposed by bureaucratic fiat and monitored for violations by federal bureaucrats.

    fixed it for you …

    1. “the topic has become almost as sharply partisan as abortion, Obamacare, or that “big, beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico.”

      and equally subject to “designer facts”, rather than actual truth.

      1. “As far back as 2014, Donald Trump was calling Net Neutrality an “attack on the Internet” and a “top down power grab” designed to target conservative voices.”

        and per usual, Mr. Trump was an hysteric and a conspiracy theorist, rather than a thoughtful commentator. it is pure nonsense to claim that Mr. Obama’s FCC’s ludicrous heavy-handed approach to “net neutrality” was targeting conservatives. it was quite simply a top down power grab, designed to enhance the grip of the federal government on every aspect of life, not political targeting.

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  17. “The advocates for net neutrality are some of the dumbest people alive and dont understand how the internet backbone actually works.”

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  21. I read some kind of libertarian/free-market analysis of the net neutrality scam that analogized it to the old price fixing and other interference of the then-newly created Interstate Commerce Commission. It pointed out how NN benefited the large content providers (FANGs) versus ISPs, and that’s why Big Tech was so very, very pro NN.

    I can’t seem to recall the economic reasoning. Anyone else ever heard/read it?

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