Posted by TJ on 11/11/2014Tags: Politics, TechnologyThe Myth of Net Neutrality
I want net neutrality as much as the next tech enthusiast. I want an internet free and clear of restrictions. I don’t want Comcast throttling data that comes from Netflix, for instance. But the fact remains that Comcast owns the pipes that get Netflix to me (in other cases, AT&T owns the pipes, in some cases Time/Warner Cable, etc.). They have the right to do whatever they want with their privately owned network. This is the very foundation of free market capitalism. They own a thing, they charge for access to the thing, they can put whatever terms and conditions in place that they want.
I believe it would be wrong to say that we can now have the government come in and tell Comcast, Verizon, Time/Warner, AT&T, how they may operate their privately owned networks. As much as I want it I don’t think it’s right to impose my will on the company via the government. Let’s say the will of the people of U.S. was that power companies provide power to each of us for free. Shall we pass legislation saying that they must do so?
Let me bring it a little closer to home. Let’s say the people of the U.S. want to pass laws that would require Churches to marry same-sex couples. Is that legislation we should pass? Just because the people want a thing doesn’t make it right.
What the people want in this case is to regulate private companies into providing unrestricted access to the Internet. I say no deal.
What we are actually and ultimately doing is propping up something very much like a monopoly or a duopoly, only with just one or two more players. By regulating these guys to provide a slighter better service, we are making it hard for other players to enter the field and really compete because we’ve regulated a bad service provided by bad players on the field to be “just good enough” so that gives them an advantage because they are already established. If we leave it alone, and de-regulate what’s already in place, the free market will take care of itself.
A useful exercise is to ask ourselves how we got to this point in the first place. And the answer is regulation. So let’s stop doing the thing that doesn’t work. I don’t want the government more involved in this, I want the free market to be allowed to operate. If Comcast, Time/Warner, Verizon, AT&T, whatever, are not providing a good service or a service in a way people want, in a free market, someone will see an opportunity and provide competition.
Also remember, the Internet is not a right, it is a service and a privilege. As a service, you pay someone for it. And as such, you don’t have any right to force anyone to provide it to you, or to provide it to you on your terms. You can feel free to negotiate or do business however you want, but you cannot get the government henchmen to act like thugs and force your will upon them.