The Department of Justice comments on potential Net neutrality regulations, indicates that broadband Internet providers can charge for premium services and the usual Armageddon chorus emerges.
After all, it's just wrong to charge for faster speeds when you have spent billions to build a network.
Russell Shaw calls it an outrage. MoveOn.org calls for Net neutrality to become a presidential issue, according to a statement Russell posted. And other folks are just freaked out by the DOJ comment. Of course none of these other folks spent billions to build a network before. These things just magically appear.
But let's get real here. All the DOJ said is that imposing Net neutrality could deter investment in networks. If there's no profit motive why would you bother building a Wimax network, FiOS or any other broadband service?
The United States Department of Justice ("Department") submits this ex parte filing to respond to suggestions by some companies and individuals that the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or "Commission") adopt new regulations governing the transmission of traffic over the Internet--so-called "net neutrality" rules. The FCC should be highly skeptical of calls to substitute special economic regulation of the Internet for free and open competition enforced by the antitrust laws. Marketplace restrictions proposed by some proponents of "net neutrality" could in fact prevent, rather than promote, optimal investment and innovation in the Internet, with significant negative effects for the economy and consumers.
The public policy objective here is clear: a thriving and dynamic Internet capable of meeting the demands of consumers for fast and reliable access to a rich variety of content and applications. Many commenters in this proceeding agree that the best way to achieve this objective is through marketplace competition. Other commenters, however, have urged the FCC to consider imposing prophylactic "neutrality" regulations to prohibit what they regard to be undesirable differentiation in the provision of Internet services. Some of these proposals, for example, could restrict broadband providers from offering different levels of quality of service at varying costs to content and application providers in a manner that efficiently responds to market demands. Other proposals would require interconnection, open access, and structural separation of companies offering both Internet access services or transmission and content or applications deliverable over the Internet.
The Department submits, however, that free market competition, unfettered by unnecessary governmental regulatory restraints, is the best way to foster innovation and development of the Internet.
Any Silicon Valley capitalist pig really want Congress fiddling with your business models? But in la-la land this profit motive thing is forgotten.
Now I'm no huge fan of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, but the idea that these guys will block sites they don't like is ludicrous. They need customers just as much as any other company. And if these providers did block sites like Google just for giggles there are other means to put these folks in their place. There are antitrust regulations and other laws already on the books.
When it comes to Net neutrality repeat after me: Congress will screw it up--big time. It's a given. If anything you may want to follow Google's lead. Google has been spending a lot of time in Washington D.C. of late. That's why it has backtracked a bit on the issue. Google isn't dumb--it realizes Congress and technology can be a toxic brew. Trust the FCC and DOJ to do its job until proven otherwise. Fixing a problem that doesn't exist is a disaster waiting to happen.
And finally here's what would really alarm me about the Net neutrality debate: Presidential campaign attention. If MoveOn.org's statement is to be believed presidential candidates should vow for first year action on the Net neutrality issue. I think we have bigger fish to fry.