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.
The web’s greatest shortcoming, as well the greatest shortcoming of the Internet before the web, is the absence of tools for commerce in the plumbing. The web needs to provide each user with a persistent identity – or more, and they don’t need to be real – and a dance card for all the permissions we’ve given for data collectors to record our activities.
The disconnect between the way the Internet really is and the way neutrality advocates wish it were came into stark relief today: while some Congressmen were outside the Capitol giving speeches on the importance of net neutrality, those inside the building voted to make significant, harmful changes to Section 230, the real protector of Internet speech. And they didn’t even notice.
Let’s not be distracted by shiny objects any more. The Internet still has tremendous promise as well as serious problems to solve. Making it better through continuous experimentation should be the top priority.
Senator Al Franken got Silicon Valley’s attention by proposing to apply net neutrality regulations to mega-gatekeepers Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al. Writing in The Guardian, the senator correctly observed that…
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