by Raymond C. Niles
(This introduction was originally posted at the "Principles in Practice" website where a free version of Mr. Niles' article originally in The Objective Standard, "Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet," has been made available.)
The chairman of the FCC recently called for applying “net neutrality” to the wireless spectrum. Such a measure would dramatically extend the reach of proposed “net neutrality” rules, which were originally slated to govern the delivery of Internet content via wire—cable and DSL lines—but not via wireless signals. The expanded rules would govern the delivery of Internet content to cell phones, iPhones, Kindles, and other wireless devices. The advocates of net neutrality claim they are seeking to preserve a “free” and “open” Internet and to prohibit the “unfair” policies of Internet service providers that favor some content over others. According to them, to preserve this openness and freedom, the FCC must be granted vastly greater powers to coercively determine the business practices of Internet service providers.
That claim, however, is a sham.
An “open” and “free” Internet cannot be achieved by means of further FCC regulations. Extending FCC controls to the wireless spectrum would not “open” anything or free anyone; rather it would further violate the rights of Americans to produce and trade according to their own judgment and thus thwart this vital new realm of life-serving technology. It would unleash a torrent of government control over every aspect of the Internet, granting the government power to dictate how content is to be delivered and at what price, making it less profitable for Internet service providers to invest in costly infrastructure, and thereby quashing their incentive to innovate.
To the extent that “net neutrality” is implemented, the result will be a slower, less robust Internet—a “stupid” Internet, as one of the chief advocates of this pernicious idea aptly describes it. For an elaboration on how “net neutrality” violates the rights of Internet service providers and users alike, and why it is a bad idea for the wired Internet and by implication the wireless spectrum, read my article “Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet.”
Friday, October 09, 2009
by Raymond C. Niles