Today is an international “day of action” to protest proposed regulatory changes from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). But what is the protest really about, and what impact would these changes have on our day-to-day lives?
If the FCC’s changes go through, would it result in “censorship, slower Internet and more expensive access”?
As is often the case, the truth is actually something different.
For expert opinion, we turn to a recent article by Tom Giovanetti, president of The Institute for Policy Innovation, a think tank that focuses on technology issues. Below are excerpts from his article — as well as some insight into what the protests are really about.
Claim: “The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality.”
This is false. The FCC wants to undo a regulatory reclassification made by the Obama FCC in 2015, which subjected the internet to massive 1930s-style monopoly regulation far in excess of net neutrality.
Claim: “If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees.”
This is also false, but instructive. No internet company thinks that it can please its customers and become more profitable by restricting access to the internet by throttling, blocking or censorship. This is classic scaremongering borne out of an unhinged distrust of capitalism and markets. Companies make money by pleasing customers, not by limiting them.
And even if a company tried to do any of those things, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department have abundant resources to prosecute anti-consumer behavior. It’s not as if somehow our massive federal government is impotent without the FCC’s Title II regulations.
Giovanetti concludes with the question that everyone should ask when they hear about the #NetNeutrality protests:
Besides, if these Title II regulations are so critical to the internet, how did the internet manage to make it from birth to today’s maturity without them? The modern internet is 20+ years old, and it made it this far without Title II.
And finally, the core issue: it turns out these protests are about monopolies, just not the monopolies the campaign’s backers want you to think they are:
What’s instructive is the “extra fees” bit, which telegraphs the real issue: Companies like Netflix that are responsible for the majority of internet traffic want to use federal regulation to lock in their current business models so they don’t have to invest in the necessary infrastructure to facilitate their own traffic. The real motive behind the campaign is the well-known phenomenon of a company or an industry using regulation to gain an advantage over other competitors or other industries.
And there you have it: #NetNeutrality is really about cutting edge companies using an age-old trick: getting the government to protect their own interests. And now we know.
What are your thoughts?
Should the government be responsible for protecting one industry or company over another? Should big companies get special treatment ahead of small ones? Let us know on Facebook and check out more of Mr. Giovanetti’s work at www.ipi.org.