Our CNET Column: “Just say no to Ma Bell-era Net neutrality regulation”

by on August 11, 2010 · 2 comments

CNET has just run the guest column, “Just say no to Ma Bell-era Net neutrality regulation,” Adam Thierer and I wrote in response to “Just say no to fake Net neutrality” by Derek Turner (of Free Press), which decried the win-win-win compromise suggested by Amazon’s Paul Misener, just as Free Press has more recently denounced the compromise proposed by Google and Verizon.

We make a few key points:

  1. History demonstrates the dangers of regulatory capture, and the costs to consumers of regulation from lost investment and innovation.
  2. These dangers and costs far outweigh the purported benefits of regulation (in addressing a non-existent harm).
  3. Broadband markets are competitive enough to prevent the kinds of abuses advocates of net neutrality regulation fret about.
  4. Government could foster more broadband competition by deregulating spectrum and local wireline franchising.

I’ve been having a lively debate with the commenters on the piece, so feel free to join in! Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be getting much substantive engagement with our argument—just the usual mix of “These guys are just corporate whores!” and “Can’t you see the sky is falling?”

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    My major concern with those who advocate “no regulation” in the net neutrality debate is the lack of clarity concerning what you would really get. The Devil is in the Details syndrome. All I here is the drum-beat of give us “freedom”. Nothing wrong with that, but I never hear a corresponding commitment that given that freedom that it won't be abused.

    Why are there a lot of comments mentioning “corporate whores”, the private sector needs to look into the mirror and examine their corporate practices that have nothing to do with the issue of regulation. Corporations, have demonstrated that freedom is an empty term to them that can be abused with impunity. For example, Time-Warner's motto is the “Power of You”, Time Warner loudly touts a “Price Lock Agreement”, but when you read the fine print there is NO “Power of You” and Time-Warner exempts itself from the honoring the “Price Lock Agreement”. So given these universal disingenuous business practices, practiced by virtually every company, why should I believe that companies, given freedom, would honestly implement net-neutrality??????

    Many respondents on the net-neutrality debate point out that the US is lags other countries in implementing internet and telecommunication technologies. Many of these posts imply that US internet/telecommunications industry is creating its own problems. For example, the New York Times – in running an article lambasting other countries “stealing” our supposed “advanced” technologies – acknowledged that many of the “fake” phones sold were more advanced than what you could buy here! Regulation may not be the problem, it could be the business practices of the companies themselves. I would like to see a comparative article on TLF that looks into why the US is behind other countries and why they have achieved success over the US.

    Instead of simply regurgitating the word “freedom”, how about proposing some industry commitments to implementing a neutral internet.

  • Nerd42

    I believe it is very important to have “net neutrality” which I understand means all Internet traffic is treated the same – with a neutral net like we have now, we won't have tiered service that only the fatcats can afford – reducing all average joe created content to second class service that won't be able to reach the masses. I think the push to create a tiered net is a push to put the genie back into the bottle and change what the Internet is about to be more like television and radio where the few and the powerful get to speak and the rest of us get to listen. And that's obviously a step backwards, not a step forwards.

    HOWEVER, at the same time I think having the GOVERNMENT seize control in order to guarantee this is suicidally insane. Look how the government has botched most everything else it has ever touched. No, there must be some third option somewhere. I just wish I knew what it was.

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