Sunday, April 27, 2014

Net Neutrality

Vox has an article blaming Congress rather than the FCC for the apparent demise of net neutrality regulations.  In my view this is wrongheaded, according to Vox's own coverage, Congress has given the FCC adequate authority to impose net neutrality regulations.  The FCC simply has to classify broadband internet provision as a "telecommunications service" rather than as an "information service".  This seems more logical and would allow the FCC to enact common carrier regulations.  Instead the FCC has tried to impose common carrier regulations while classifying internet provision as an "information service".  Since this is not allowed by the relevant law the Courts have rejected these attempts. 

Apparently the FCC is reluctant to classify broadband internet as a "telecommunications service" because they fear this would prompt a political backlash from industry groups.  But expecting Congress to be more willing to take political heat than a federal agency seems crazy to me.  The real reason net neutrality is dying is that its advocates haven't mustered enough political support to overcome industry opposition. 

As for my opinions on net neutrality itself, I don't think internet providers should be allowed to discriminate based on content but I am sympathetic to the view that they should be able to charge extra for high bandwidth usage and other behavior which stresses the network.

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