Network Neutrality

I just posted a comment on Slashdot in response to a poorly worded summary and thought I would expand here.

The issue that most “thinking” conservatives (i.e. not those who simply parrot whatever various talk shows put out) have with the network neutrality concept is not the ideal of keeping an ISP from blocking or throttling competing traffic (which so far has been mostly self-regulated), but rather the potential side effects from granting authority to the FCC to do that. Currently the FCC has no regulatory authority over the internet and allowing them to simply assume such authority unchecked is rather dangerous. Liberals would not want a conservatively controlled FCC regulating the internet just as conservatives do not want a liberally (modern ideological definition) controlled FCC regulating the internet. A previous poster noted the damage that a Republican controlled FCC with regulatory power over the internet could cause if they blocked all Democrat websites and vice versa. Enforcing internet neutrality between ISPs by introducing total control by an agency of the American government appears to be a bad idea. A well thought out congressional bill to limit ISP interference with traffic is a better idea (although not perfect). Yes, there is a tiny group of liberals who want to use “network neutrality” to control speech on the internet. There is also a tiny group of conservatives who want to do the same thing. I think the majority on both sides agree on this more than they disagree, but as usual that gets lost in the rhetoric.

Fundamentally, the bulk of both ideological groups should start thinking through what is being said by both those in their own parties and in the opposition. The Democrats like to paint conservatives with a broad brush of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et cetera. Republicans like to do the same thing. If both groups are capable of thinking and not just repeating what leaders say, fringe leaders will not tend to become the voice of the group.

I wonder whether the market is capable of self regulating competitive traffic interference out of existence, or whether such a bill is indeed required. So far, the outcry in response to such practices seems to have kept them in check. Also, the antitrust regulations (the subject of another post), would probably be capable of keeping Comcast from blocking Netflix, causing de facto network neutrality.

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