February 5, 2015

Net Neutrality's Threat to Innovation

Brent Skorup

Senior Research Fellow
Summary

The FCC’s plans represent a giant step backwards to the days of command-and-control. The FCC should not turn over control of the Internet to unelected regulators in the hopes of maintaining a principle that never existed. Instead, their focus should be on increasing broadband competition and allowing companies to quickly respond to the needs of consumers.

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In the Net Neutrality plans laid out by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the Internet, one of the consistent bright spots in the U.S. economy, would be subject to 80-year old telephone regulations.

Applying Title II laws to broadband would result in regulating the Internet like a common carrier, and gives significant control of the Internet to the FCC, lobbyists and industry players. Instead of rigid prohibitions, any rules should be flexible and prioritize the needs of consumers, not industries. 

The U.S. technology sector has thrived because of constant innovations, and consumers have benefited from technological advances. The application of Title II means that companies in Silicon Valley will rely increasingly on their regulatory compliance officers, not their engineers and designers. 

The FCC’s plans build on the myth that the Internet is neutral. In reality, the network engineers who designed the Internet made sure that certain tasks and services were prioritized. Some applications—like gaming, phone calls, and teleconferencing—need different treatment than time-insensitive services like email, data backup, and the Internet of Things. In the evolving online world, the Internet gets less neutral—and better for consumers—every day.

The FCC’s plans represent a giant step backwards to the days of command-and-control. The FCC should not turn over control of the Internet to unelected regulators in the hopes of maintaining a principle that never existed. Instead, their focus should be on increasing broadband competition and allowing companies to quickly respond to the needs of consumers.