It’s reasonably clear that Internet regulation is now blowing up in our faces: Congressional Democrats are intent on raising the 2015 OIO from the dead, but for reasons that appear to be totally political. Meanwhile, data brokers make hay with our browsing histories and nobody but the Europeans seems to care.
Enjoying the benefits of ICT and the Information Age requires us to adopt new models of regulation that are fit for the task. For this to happen, we’ll need to stop demonizing every new invention for the sake of eyeballs, audience, and ad revenues.
The Obama FCC admitted that it could not find the sweet spot. In the 2015 Open Internet Order, former Chairman Wheeler simply claimed regulatory authority to sanction firms for behaviors he could not anticipate. Rather than creating bright line rules, Wheeler raised his voice and issued threats. Angry threats have subsequently become the preferred way to regulate not only the Internet but its regulators as well. This is not productive, but it’s the road chosen by many.
California simply has some motivated politicians seeking to capitalize on the state’s animus toward the FCC, Washington, the Red States, and the Trump Administration with a symbolic act of rebellion. Net neutrality is a California export, so in some sense it’s fitting for it to come home.
The peril of net neutrality is stagnation. If we force the Internet back to the traditional straight jackets, this fully competitive future may never arrive. I’m not willing to take that risk when lawmakers are so blind to the reality of the Internet that they can float this “one word at a time” nonsense with a straight face.
The Internet is not simply a sandbox for network research any more, it has become the primary means of electronic communication around the world. Before long, it will be the only such means and we will all be better for it. Please allow firms that depend on networking to invest efficiently so as to maximize their incentives to innovate.
Consumers were easy to get wound up about their ISPs ten years ago, when the Internet was new to them and their access to it was gated by a high-priced broadband plan. But I’m not so sure consumer rage is to easily channeled today
As soon as supporters of the CRA have had their turns at extolling the virtues of the Title II telecommunications carrier regulations from the Senate floor, I hope they will pivot to their legislative duty to enact serious legislation.