Dumb Pipes, a Dumb Idea: Net Neutrality as 21st Century Socialism

by on April 2, 2008 · 8 comments

This week’s C:\Spin (#197), CEI’s tech policy newsletter, casts net neutrality in the appropriate light. Calling out proponents of neutrality for what they are–political predators–my colleague Wayne Crews lays bare the misconceptions and wrong-headed thinking that make up the neutrality debate:

“You know who owns your pipes? Your customers. You have no right to set up a tollbooth.”

– Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), September 17, 2007

Sen. Dorgan’s statement refers to the broadband infrastructure built up by the telcos and their rivals. It lays the “net neutrality” issue bare: if you’re an infrastructure owner or Internet service provider, government people like him shall dictate your relationships with the world at large.

Welcome to infrastructure socialism, 21st century style.

Online activists teamed with superstars like Google seek a perpetual “open access” business model imposed on Internet service. Last summer’s master stroke: to link future wireless spectrum auctions to accommodating the policy.

Comcast recently received letters of inquiry from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to a petition filed by a coalition averse to what it regards as unjustified data discrimination against file-sharers. They seek fines in the millions.

Barack Obama, unveiling his “innovation agenda” late last year, pledged, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. Because once providers start to privilege some applications or web sites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose.”

Check out the rest at CEI’s website where you can also read back issues of C:\Spin or sign up to receive them in your email inbox.

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