Monday, November 10, 2014

Obamacare for the Internet?

President Barack Obama strongly weighed in on the net neutrality issue, petitioning the F.C.C. to consider the internet like a public utility for Americans.

While net neutrality is understood as internet companies adjusting internet speeds for certain users.  Mr. Obama's statement declares:

"I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online."

However, the ramifications of the Obama Administration's modest proposal goes beyond "internet fast lanes".  By applying the net neutrality to cellular companies, who offered tiers of service based on payments and who will govern a small number of bandwidth hogs.  Enforcing net neutrality could either raise rates for everyone or cause congestion reducing access for many mobile data users.

Of course, treating the internet like a public utility means lots of government bureaucrats and functionaries to apply and monitor these rules.  The problem is that instead of applying the principle of subsidiarity, where governing happens on a local or state level, inevitably this would be centralized in the District of Calamity (sic).

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered some quick and incisive reaction on Twitter to Mr. Obama's play on net neutrality.

Do we really want to cede control of the internet to the government, which spent $2 Billion on  and could not build an efficient and secure webpage?

Mr. Obama rightly notes that the F.C.C. is an independent agency so which unelected bureaucrats will govern us with little chance of redress?

Let us not forget about mission creep.  Currently, the F.C.C. is taking comments on the alleged offensiveness of the term "Redskins" to force owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the sports franchise from "The Washington Redskins".  This is being pursued by trying to pull the licenses of a couple of Red Zebra am sports radio stations that the Redskins owner controls.  This would set a precedent of government censoring content based on shifting political correctness, not well established community standards like George Carlin's "The Seven Words" that you can't say when broadcasting.

Furthermore, how much will the government stifle innovation on the internet as government bureaucrats figure things out and assess what is fair and neutral.

There has been wrangling for years over net neutrality. But it would be prudent to give a death panel to the notion of making the Internet into Obamacare via public utility regulation by the federal government.

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