What is Net Neutrality in 2017?

The proposal shows how the new rules will comply with other laws and government policies to provide the most freedom.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is skeptical this is a good proposal, freedom-wise. Skepticism is good. They have yet to publish their opinion on whether this proposal will add to our freedom or detract. I’ll have to wait to see what they say.

For now, each of us has to decide if the media and politicians are playing us against our best interests and taking away freedoms.


History and freedom are generally left out of the Net Neutrality debate. Unfortunately, the debate has devolved to a battle of tweets and sound bites with little real substance and few caring about facts. That is the only way most can promote a political agenda. But, what is the pertinent history?

The most important single fact is that for most of the Internet’s life it has been free and unregulated. Only for the last 2-years has it been over-regulated.

An important part of freedom and the engine that has lifted the most people out of poverty is the free market. Shortly after the birth of America, Adam Smith (economist-philosopher 1723-1790) was writing about economics and how the free market naturally evolves when feudal (fascist) oppression is removed.  He used the term free market in his writing about human nature and enlightened self-interest. (The Wealth of Nations). He thought government control of the economy was a really bad idea. He promised freedom and hard work would allow you to attain whatever you desire if you could keep oppressive governments off your back. The government was ONLY to be a referee and keep everyone honest.


Slight of hands...

Slight of hands…

About a hundred years later Karl Marx (economist-Hegelian philosopher) in challenging Smith’s ideas ran into the problem of trying to make the free market sound bad and changed to using the word Capitalism in place of the free market. He thought humans were a mess and government should control everything to achieve the highest human ideals. He promised utopia if all control were given to the government.

Those descriptions are deliberate oversimplifications.

In 2015, Net Neutrality was a way to give control of the Internet and the system that supports it to the government. The Democrat ideology of ID Politics comes into play dividing the consumer and provider rather than treating them as equals under the law.

In place of people having a choice in how the Internet is run and paid for, the government will take that freedom and tell everyone how it will be done. If the government gets it wrong, citizens will only be able to change it if they can get an act of Congress. Think about how many things the government has messed up and gotten wrong.

Obama’s idea was to give control of the Internet to the U.N. A voting group dominated by dictatorships and anti-democratic ideals. In 2015 Pia was the one FCC board member standing in his way. Anyone following the FCC rules meetings is aware of the efforts of the Democrat members’ attempts to give control of the political content allowed on the Internet to the FCC, government. That would very likely have been the end of free political, if not all, speech on the Internet.

Today the lack of understanding of government, economics, business, and the ideal of citizens in a country being free from government dominance is creating amazing distortions. Pia in fighting for everyone’s freedom is condemned as bad using bogymen and stories of how much more it will cost you.

If you are truly interested in an Internet of low cost, improving quality, and innovation you need to understand what the debate is about and what is actually being proposed. Get past the agenda driven media telling you what they think it is.

Perfect magician

Perfect magician

I think the long-term view is more important than the short term. Plus, freedom and the free market are always better than a bureaucratic dictatorship.

6 thoughts on “What is Net Neutrality in 2017?

  1. Thanks for the alternative viewpoint and thanks for the fair criticism that I didn’t quote the proposal.

    I share a lot of your scepticism about the media and some of the articles have been awful, I was most surprised to see the Portugal comparisons when Portugal is in the EU where we do have net neutrality regs and that sort of misinformation doesn’t help the cause of those of us who oppose these changes.

    I remain unconvinced that a return to pre-2015 regulations is helpful though, I’d rather see some compromise here and positive reasons for these changes have been thin on the ground.

    • The challenge is wading through all the BS. I think a good starting point is the book The Political Spectrum.

      Historically, the government has stifled most innovation. As the book shows the eggheads, industry brains, government, and special interests delayed FM radio 20 years and cellular something like 50 years. So, letting them, the government, take over regulation of the Internet would most likely mean an early death to Internet innovation and I expect control of free speech.

      As to the few positive points in the current plan, that is media bias and the Left’s agenda.

      • Net neutrality is absolutely vital in areas where one company has a monopoly (or near monopoly) over internet access. For much of the United States there is only one practical provider, the incumbent cable or telephone service. These are environments where free market forces absolutely do not exist, and in many cases telecom groups have fought for legislation to prevent a free market from being viable.

        Putting ISPs under Title II instead ensures the existence of a free market for internet companies. If Netflix could lobby the US government for preferential traffic treatment, we would call it bribery. The death of net neutrality means legalizing bribery of ISPs to promote one business and harm another. This is the very antithesis of a free market. When Ajit Pai talks about “innovation” being stifled, this is what he is referring to: innovation in revenue streams for already-extant monopolies, not technological innovation that contributes usefully to society.

        Net neutrality today does not entail censorship tomorrow. That is a slippery slope fallacy about regulation, and in this case it is philosophically irrational: legislation that, among other things, outlaws content filtering by an ISP does not imply that the government is preparing to step in and do so itself. If anything that would be an inconsistent agenda on the part of the legislators.

        You seem to have come up with this based on an intrinsic mistrust of regulations. But some regulations are effective, and to ignore them is completely dishonest. I am certain you are aware that regulations controlling pollution were absolutely vital in saving air and water from becoming completely toxic in the fifties. The free market was completely inadequate to deal with the upkeep of this common good, as the factories contributing to the pollution regarded the environment as an externality with no relevance to their business. By the time they would have acknowledged such problems on their own and taken action to correct the issue, it would have been too late.

        The pre-2015 landscape is often mentioned by revisionists as a paradise of good-mannered self-regulation by ISPs. But on several occasions these companies were caught red-handed using traffic shaping against services they disapproved of, such as BitTorrent. While many are quick to discount BitTorrent as a vehicle for piracy, that behaviour also impacted people downloading Linux installers, public domain content, scientific data, and other forms of legitimate communication. The Title II reclassification came in response to these abuses when it became apparent that ISPs had no interest in maintaining the peaceful landscape of the 90s, when the industry was in its infancy. The concept of manipulating traffic for profit may not have existed back then, but it’s absurd to suggest it can simply be forgotten.

        And if none of that has convinced you, consider the following: Verizon wants to buy CNN, and Comcast already owns NBC. In principle, under Title I classification, they could slow down all other news sites for their customers. Do you really want your ISP deciding that kind of thing for you?

        • As to one provider, you are wrong. We are no where near a monopoly. The list of backbone providers is here. Most cities provide a franchise for the companies that build infrastructure, coaxed and fiber optic. But, there are still numerous small companies competing within such cities. In my town of 101,000 there are 22 ISP’s with COX holding the main franchise. Cord-cutters are switching to these smaller ISP’s as they provide better service/performance.

          The Obama Net Neutrality will slowly wipe them out. Pia/Trump’s reversal will allow more of them to grow and compete.

          Title II slowed the development of FM radio and delayed the creation of wireless cellular. It will not assure a free market. It guarantees a regulated, not free, market. For history and studies see the book Political Spectrum (link in previous response) and its bibliography.

          Net Neutrality is not supposed to include censorship and it is advertised that way. But, Title II definitely limits speech. We see that today in language limits (words that cannot be said), nudity limits, and whatever else the censors decide. I thought everyone new that. How many times have you seen a celebrity ask if they can say that on air…

          During the Obama administration we saw the Democrat members of the FCC proposing controls to limit political speech on the Internet and specifically targeting Drudge Report and other conservative web sites. (References 100+) Since they could not get their miss named Net Neutrality law passed, Obama wrote an Executive Order placing the Internet under the FCC’s control via Title II.

          Read a little news from places like the Electronic Frontier Foundation through 2012 to 2015 and you find a CONSISTANT effort to limit speech on the Internet. The Left & Right are both fairly consistent in trying to acquire power.

          There are good regulations. It is not a distrust of regulation. It is a distrust of politicians. You have no doubt heard of the Democrats’ Jim Crow Laws. Then there was Nixon’s Republican passed gasoline price controls, which Net Neutrality under Title II has striking similarity in ideology.

          Placing the Internet in a 1934 era laws that stifled development for a half century is not good regulation.

          I have never seen anyone other than ISP’s talking about how well-mannered ISP’s were. The pre-2015 era was an amazing era of innovation and free market growth.

          The idea that designing a system to facilitate a businesses’ financial model is common place. You seem to think it is something bad. Fedex, UPS, DHL, and others do it very well. Customer pay for the speed they want, next day, 2-day, Ground (3+ days). People don’t have a problem paying for what they want or can afford.

          In contrast the USPS is going broke from all the regulation forced on it and is the slowest innovator in the field as it takes an act of congress to get much of anything changed.

          The Internet is not being forgotten. Pai’s proposal adds a considerable level of transparency and some enforcement tools not currently available and certainly does NOT exist in Title II laws.

          Your concern about Verizon/CNN (supporting the Left), Comcast/NBC (supporting the Left), and others is likely only a concern because the Democrats/Obama chose to ignore and not prosecute there big donors/supporters with existing well tried and performing Anti-Trust Laws.

          You brought up reasonable concerns. But, your understanding of the 2015 change to Title II seems highly uninformed.

  2. Reference regarding Capital Expenditures by Publicly Traded Broadband Providers (2013–2016) based on SEC filings

  3. Pingback: Net Neutrality and the Gullible | Nalates' Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

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