McDowell: “Long Winter’s Night for Internet Freedom”

by on December 20, 2010 · 2 comments

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell penned an outstanding piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription) on the commission’s vote tomorrow on neutrality regulation.   The final paragraph is worth a Pulitzer:

On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter’s night for Internet freedom.

Strangely, McDowell’s dire warning is similar to that of Senate Majority Comedian Al Franken, who warned today in the Huffington Post that if the proposed rules are adopted, “the Internet as we know it would cease to exist.”    Of course, his reasoning is a bit different, as he calls for more, rather than less regulation. 

Despite complaints from Franken and others on the Left that the FCC proposal doesn’t interfere enough with the Internet, the betting at the moment is that the FCC will adopt neutrality rules of some type or another tomorrow.   The the real battle begins, on two fronts.  In Congress, GOP members are anxious to use their new House majority (as well as their increased Senate heft)  to take a whack at regulation generally, and neutrality regulation specifically.   Secondly, in the courts, which decimated the FCC’s prior attempt to impose neutrality rules, and will no doubt will look skeptically at these new ones.

Should be an interesting 2011.  (BTW, my own piece on the issue, released on Friday, can be found here.)

  • G. Lopes

    The “bandwidth hogs” argument is absurd; the subscribers are merely using the network resources that were made available to them. If the provider does not have capacity to serve the bandwidth usage of its subscribers, it should either: a) decreased the bandwidth provided or b) apply limits to the total traffic. Both of these solutions resolve the issue in a content neutral fashion. The first has the disadvantage that all costumers are affected, but the second ensures the subscriber thinks twice about “bandwidth hogging”.

    Of course, then subscribers would be limited in, not only the amount of bittorrenting, but was video on demand, youtube etc. And then we conclude this is not really about “bandwidth hogging” as much as it is lowering the network costs at the expense of peer to peer networks.

  • Anonymous

    What I find so terribly troubling is that the idea behind net neutrality is to prevent the carriers from controlling the field according to their whim – tiers, fencing etc. I think we have seen this already with companies blocking who we can and cannot do business/view with (wikileaks) and the UK planning to “prohibit” access to specific content unless you “opt” in. What the FCC plans to do is actually is not neutrality, but more like new rules in favor of carriers in the wireless spectrum. I say either pass a law similar to the 1st amendment where access cannot be prohibited but with a legal court order or do nothing.

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