October 6, 2014

Don't Demonize Internet 'Fast Lanes'

Brent Skorup

Senior Research Fellow
Summary

Though the economy has improved only in fits and starts over the past few years, one bright spot remains constant: The technology and communications industry. Part of this success is because Silicon Valley and the tech sector aggressively develop popular consumer products before bureaucrats and lawmakers have time to delay them.

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Though the economy has improved only in fits and starts over the past few years, one bright spot remains constant: The technology and communications industry. Part of this success is because Silicon Valley and the tech sector aggressively develop popular consumer products before bureaucrats and lawmakers have time to delay them. Wisely, or perhaps coincidentally, Congress has treated the Internet with benign neglect.

However, there is a well-funded contingent in the net neutrality movement seeking to increase Federal Communications Commission oversight of the Internet. These net neutrality proponents are – to paraphrase William F. Buckley Jr. – standing athwart the history of technology yelling, “Stop!” Their backward-looking approach would revive large parts of telephone regulations from the 1934 Communications Act.

Their goal is to persuade the FCC to reinterpret the law and apply monopoly-era telephone regulations to today’s broadband providers. Net neutrality advocates conjure up a bogeyman that ostensibly threatens startups and consumers. Their cramped worldview does not see tremendous possibilities in lightly regulated broadband and they oppose the FCC’s current hands-off approach to the Internet.

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