What Mike Said

by on July 29, 2008 · 10 comments

Sometimes Mike Masnick has posts that are so spot-on that I can’t resist quoting them almost in their entirety:

As you may recall, a few years back, the entertainment industry pushed for the FCC to mandate a broadcast flag that would allow it to define rules for whether or not its content could be recorded by DVRs. The courts rightfully determined that such a mandate was outside the scope of the FCC’s authority. However, an FCC ruling on net neutrality is basically covering identical grounds, yet many of the groups cheering this decision are the same who fought against the Broadcast Flag, claiming the FCC had no mandate.

Now, to be clear, the concept of network neutrality is definitely a good thing — but having the FCC suddenly put itself in charge of regulating such things (even if it’s regulating it in a reasonable manner) is really dangerous. Those who are celebrating this decision should be worried about what it means. Specifically, they’re going to have little leg to stand on when the FCC next tries to mandate something outside of its authority (which is almost certainly going to happen in the near future).

That doesn’t mean that the apocalyptic predictions from the industry will come true, however. Represented by a positively ridiculous and blatantly silly editorial in the Washington Post by FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, it’s pure rubbish to suggest that this ruling by the FCC means the internet might “grind to a halt” is totally unsubstantiated sensationalism that has been shown time and time and time again to be false. There isn’t a serious bandwidth crunch — and whatever potential crunch may be coming could be dealt with by some modest improvements in infrastructure, not necessarily by breaking network neutrality, which is more of an attempt to double charge for bandwidth than anything else.

However, supporters of net neutrality may be making a big mistake in cheering on the FCC as it expands its authority in this area. The FCC has never been about protecting consumer rights, and granting them this authority (which the law appears not to do) opens the door to a lot more trouble down the road.

Lucky for me, Mike isn’t a stickler about enforcing his rights under copyright.

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