The Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, released a statement on December 1st addressing the issue of net neutrality. The FCC has proposed several regulations that would stop internet service providers from blocking or promoting any website over another. Essentially, internet users will be able to search any website they want without discretion from broadband companies. This proposal is set for a vote on December 21st, and if passed, the FCC will be able to regulate “net neutrality.”
But this FCC action is unwarranted and unfavorable both now and in the long run.
While the idea of equal consumer access to websites and information is desired, it’s important to question whether or not the government should be involved in the first place. Consider this Cato Institute policy analysis by Adam D. Thierer. It asserts that federal regulations on internet access are truly unjustified since providers have not shown any significant signs of web discrimination. The consumer demand for these regulations is minimal, if not absent, within the internet market. This preemptive strike against internet companies is unnecessary and further expands the government’s control over our personal actions and those of American businesses.
These regulations will transform open internet service in to a government commodity with hidden long- term consequences. An article published by The Ludwig von Mises Institute, discusses how net neutrality laws essentially decide who will have the responsibility of managing networks. Should it be the internet service providers (the actual owners of the network) or the government (outside regulators) who control how the internet gets distributed? The owners of the network have an incentive to provide the most open and accessible internet in order to satisfy consumer demand; whereas, the government operates within a policy framework unaffected by market forces.
If the FCC passes these regulations, the policy- driven internet service will be incapable of reacting to market changes; the only response will be an eventual decline in the growth of and investment in the internet companies that currently support these regulations.
More information on Net Neutrality:
The Phantom Menace in the ACLU’s Case for Net Neutrality
The Durable Internet: Preserving Network Neutrality without Regulation
A Libertarian Take on Net Neutrality
Does Net Neutrality Promote Competition?
Michelle is an intern for the Libertarian National Committee in Washington D.C.