Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 542, October 25, 2009

"I am about to embark upon a new adventure."

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Neutering the Net
by Bill St. Clair

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

L. Neil Smith wrote: Would somebody please write something about "net neutrality"? I thought it was a bad thing, bit now I hear that John McCain's against it, and it makes me wonder.

I have always been an opponent of "net neutrality", but mostly because the proponents of it I've read have taken it to mean unlimited bandwidth for almost no cost, something that would guarantee the death of the net. Bandwidth costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. Those who use it should pay for what they use. Most people view "net neutrality" as an entitlement, something the internet service providers somehow "owe" them. Balderdash!

But the recently proposed FCC rules do not do that, if Wired's excerpt (link below) is representative. They're more like guaranteeing that your long distance carrier may not disconnect your call because you're talking about changing carriers. Or your electric company may not forbid you to play JPFO videos on your TV if it runs on their power. But the new rules are still a bad idea, since we all know what happens once you let the camel's nose under the tent. The market almost always does a better job of regulating this kind of behavior.

My guess is that McCain's stated reason for his "Internet Freedom Act of 2009" (S.1936), that he wants to "keep the Internet free from government control and regulation", is only rhetoric, though it's good rhetoric. More likely he wants to keep AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast happy, so that they'll continue to give him money. Which means that in determining whether or not to oppose net neutrality, his opinion means squat. But the text of the bill isn't yet available from Thomas, so I don't know for sure what he's actually proposing.


FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Now the Fight Begins—contains the kernel of the proposed text of the FCC's new rules.

FCC 09-93—the full text of the FCC's 107-page proposed rulemaking. I haven't read this, but its length alone is a good reason to oppose it.

Surprise: McCain Biggest Beneficiary of Telco/ISP Lobby Money

S.1936, "A bill to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from further regulating the Internet."—Text not yet available, but should appear in a day or two.


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