Reason Roundup

4 Years After the FCC Repealed Net Neutrality, the Internet Is Better Than Ever

Plus: Pfizer's new pill prevents severe disease from the omicron coronavirus variant, Boston University has a bizarre Title IX training module, and more...


Exactly four years ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the internet regulation known as net neutrality, which had forced internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all content identically in terms of download and streaming speeds, for instance. Since the popular policy had come into existence during the Obama administration, and was gutted during President Donald Trump's term, its demise was treated as the end of the internet as we know it by panic-stricken #resistance liberals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) predictably said the Republican attack on net neutrality was an attack on democracy itself. (What isn't?)

The term net neutrality was coined by law professor Tim Wu in 2006; his big idea was that the government needed the power to restrict ISPs' ability to offer different levels of service to different customers. "Throughout the '00s and into the late Obama years, Wu cautioned that without rules requiring internet service providers to treat all traffic and content equally, the internet as we had come to know it would cease to exist," wrote Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown, summarizing Wu's position. "Big corporations would create a digital fast lane for rich users and content providers, while average people would suffer through slow service and throttled access."

The fact that the internet had operated for years with minimal government intervention, never producing such a two-tiered system, did not deter Wu, and the Obama administration eventually codified net neutrality under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. (Wu now serves as an adviser on technology policy for the Biden administration). When then–FCC Chairman Ajit Pai undid the policy on December 14, 2017, Democratic policy makers and pundits widely anticipated that the end was nigh.

Again, that was four years ago. Today, the internet is still here, and still functioning properly. Expectations that ISPs would practice widespread and improper discrimination did not pan out. On the contrary, the internet is better and faster for basically everybody than it was when net neutrality ended—in fact, it's better and faster than at any point in the past.

Nathan Leamer, a former adviser to Pai and current public affairs executive, pointed out on Tuesday that the chicken littles of net neutrality never recanted their dire predictions.

His Twitter thread included fascinating examples.'s front page declared "the end of the internet as we know it" under a breaking news tab: This was a news story, rather than an opinion piece, in other words.

Senate Democrats made an equally extreme claim: that without net neutrality, the internet would load one word at a time.

Needless to say, that didn't happen. None of it did. Foes of net neutrality were clearly correct that the internet didn't need the government to save it, and absent federal direction and regulation, everything is fine.


Boston University's mandatory Title IX training forces participants to affirm that they would intervene in a situation where one person compliments another person's spouse or family, even if the comment prompts smiles and laughter. According to The Washington Free Beacon:

Several scenarios involved "bystander intervention," the idea that onlookers should prevent harassment by inserting themselves into potentially inappropriate encounters. In one vignette, an Asian woman is told that her white husband is "good-looking" and that "half-Asian babies are the cutest." Asked "what should you do," students and faculty were forced to select "Intervene" to advance through the training. Even though the woman "smiled" at the compliment, the training explains, she still "might have felt uncomfortable" about comments relating to "her race, her husband's appearance, or the prospect of having children" itself.

The training also required students and faculty to affirm that people "rarely" make false accusations. "You might be surprised to learn that false reports aren't common, and frivolous claims are almost nonexistent," the training says. "Sometimes" was not an acceptable answer—though one study found that as many as two-thirds of hate crime accusations turn out to be false.


Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, which has yet to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), works very well against the omicron variant, according to new research conducted by the company. "We are confident that, if authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic," Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, said in a statement.

According to The New York Times:

Last month, Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the pill, known as Paxlovid, based on a preliminary batch of data. The new results will undoubtedly strengthen the company's application, which could mean that Americans infected with the virus may have access to the pill within weeks.

In Tuesday's announcement, Pfizer said that if given within three days of the onset of symptoms, Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent. If given within five days, the risk was reduced almost as much, to 88 percent.

The results, based on an analysis of 2,246 unvaccinated volunteers at high risk of severe disease, largely match the company's initial, smaller analysis of the clinical trial, released last month.

Pfizer said that 0.7 percent of patients who received Paxlovid were hospitalized within 28 days of entering the trial, and none died. By contrast, 6.5 percent of patients who received a placebo were hospitalized or died.

Maybe the FDA could move a little faster, please?


  • Twitch suspended two popular streamers—Hasan and Vaush, a self-described "libertarian socialist"—for using the word cracker during a stream. The platform considered this a racial slur.
  • A QAnon supporter received a 28-month prison sentence for making death threats against Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
  • The Air Force discharged 27 enlistees who refused to get vaccinated.
  • Newark, New Jersey, wants to make it illegal to feed the homeless.