Bridge Span 17-5: A FCC Message of Hope?

Much has already been made, with more yet to come, about President Trump’s first one hundred days in office. Love him or not, love the accomplishments or not, even a cursory review of the last few months show a dogged determination to roll back the regulatory state. Today, in a highly anticipated speech by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, could be the day of another very real move to enhance liberty and improve opportunities for all citizens.

As reported in Politico, “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has two speeches lined up this week, including one on Wednesday where he’s expected to address the future of internet regulations and his vision for revamping the net neutrality rules.” Given the screaming by the anti-freedom crowd you wouldn’t be blamed for believing that the talk today is a harbinger of doom.

Hopefully it is doom, the extinction of the bizarrely named “net neutrality” restrictions. As one of the best examples of government hyper micro-management of imagined potential future concern, reversing the so-called “Open Internet Oder” should be priority one. The rules were never about solving a problem, or fixing a broken process. Instead the heavy handed regulations have been only about placing one of the most innovative, vibrant sectors of the U.S. economy in the unrelenting grip of government control. So, lovers of government constriction have warned of dire consequences for consumers if net neutrality is even modified much less removed.

The truth is much different. Changing or even “overturning” the rules is merely a restoration of the free and open internet, restoring an internet that once again includes a light regulatory touch while staying out of the way of progress, innovation and invention. All the bizarrely titled “net neutrality” rules did was to layer in costs, adding gratuitous restrictions that limit innovation and the necessary continued investment to bring consumers better, faster internet service. In other words, the rules are anti-consumer. No harm was ended because no harm was ever claimed. No freedoms were given, in fact liberty was reduced. The easy to see, honest, bottom-line? Consumers lost.

Of course some businesses, and pro-regulatory groups, did gain by the institution of the arcane new rules. When any regulation or law is put in place, business operations grow up around it resulting in winners and losers. But that is not a reason to perpetuate poor public policy. Moreover, the rule was only approved in 2015 and under constant legal attack since then. The notion that industries have built up in that little time, in the midst of uncertainty, is a stretch. The real reason that businesses have grown that are dependent on internet service providers providing stable, fast broadband is actually because of the competitive marketplace. This is to say that consumers required internet providers to create a consistent, quality and open system to retain them as customers. Are customers likely to stay with a company that intentionally blocks access to its service? Hardly.

No one should mistake that there is anything but near unanimous belief amongst all political tribes that an open Internet should exist. No advocacy group, political party, industry or consumer group is advocating for consumer harm. Arguments to the contrary are not just fake news but out and out falsehoods. Government restriction and control of the internet is by definition, not an open internet. Inarguably, the best way to preserve an open internet is precisely how an open internet has been preserved for this long, via the free market. That is how consumers will continue to be protected, and how consumers will continuously benefit from the innovation, investment and creation that follows. Hopefully this will be Commissioner Pai’s message of an optimistic future given today.

Comments are closed.