Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 544, November 15, 2009

Life goes on.

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More on "Net Neutrality"
by Curt Howland

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

What is "neutrality"? It's leaving things alone. If there was ever something the egomaniacs in any government cannot do, it's leave anything alone.

So right there, at the start, any "legislation" being called "net neutrality" is itself an oxymoron.

Since this new law is not available to read, and with current governmental procedures as precedent it may never be available to read prior to its being written into law, there is no way to know what it is that is being considered as "neutral".

Every hint of "net neutrality" exists in the very first sentence of the First Amendment to the Constitution for the United States: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

The entirety of the 'Net is speech. It is communication, publishing, theater, comedy club and karaoke night at the local caffeine-station, all rolled into one.

Just like legislating "morality", any attempt to legislate "neutrality" will entrench some special interests at the expense of everyone else. Since we cannot read the proposed law, we cannot make a guess as to which interests those might be.

Let's see what the ideas being touted behind "net neutrality" are, as I have been able to understand them over the last few years:

1: Punish carriers who limit traffic to specific sites or other carriers.

2: Punish carriers who restrict some kinds of traffic in favor of other kinds, such as voice in preference to web pages.

3: Various "universal access" schemes have been proposed, with price caps, service minimums, etc. Basically, central planning finally comes to the 'Net.

The free market has already taken care of these things. All that legislation can do is, as with all government regulation, entrench some interests in law while preventing competition.

It will be interesting to see what the experience is in Finland since they decided on Oct. 15th that "universal broadband" shall exist by law. Luckily for the Finns, but bad for us, that they're a small area. They might make it work well enough to convince other central planners to try it.

The 'Net was a toy for researchers and university students for 20 years until 1993. Use exploded only after the National Science Foundation released their control over the "routing tables" and dropped the rule against commercial traffic, in effect throwing the gates wide open and letting commerce, innovation and the free market do what entrepreneurs do best: Provide the best service at the best price to the greatest number of people.

The researchers and scientists at the National Science Foundation acted, I believe, as people who understood the Orwellian consequences of AlGore's "Information Superhighway", and acted as soon as they knew he was going to be Vice President to put the 'Net beyond his reach.

The US Federal government reacted slowly, nationalizing the ICANN (the people who assign IP addresses) and placing it under the control of various NSA spooks, trying to lock down encryption with the RSA patents under NSA control, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, etc, but the Genie was out of the bottle and they were unable to put it back so easily.

In my opinion, any "net neutrality" law must be examined in the light of the Fed.Gov's desire to regulate and control. Leviathan never does anything that isn't in its own interests.


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