Jenny Beth’s Journal: Net Neutrality was Just Govt. Overreach, Plain and Simple
One year ago this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed the Obama-era “net neutrality” policy which essentially allowed the government to regulate the internet.
“Neutrality,” like the word “fairness” and other liberal shibboleths, has a nice ring to it, but the true aims of net neutrality are a far cry from the benign-sounding name. Tim Wu, the Columbia Law School professor who coined the term “net neutrality,” explained to members of Congress the purpose of the policy. The regulations that comprise net neutrality exist to give the FCC the ability to shape “media policy, social policy, oversight of the political process, [and] issues of free speech.”
Net neutrality was borne from an Obama campaign promise in the 2008 election. Following through on that campaign promise in 2014, he urged the FCC to pursue “the strongest possible” rules to implement a net neutrality policy. The FCC, responding to Obama’s urgings a few months later, voted in favor of net neutrality rules.
The FCC, however, lacked the legal authority to regulate the Internet. Not to be deterred, the agency simply reclassified Internet service providers as “common carriers” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, effectively making the companies public utilities.
The Internet thus became part of FDR’s 1934 telecommunications regulatory regime.
Placing the Internet under the Telecommunications Act gave the FCC the authority to regulate the rates Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could charge, to review and even block business models in the ISP space, and even to create a tax on Internet use.
Since the reversal of net neutrality, the Internet is a more open, accessible and competitive cyberworld—as it should be! Ending net neutrality has resulted in a better, faster, and more accessible Internet for Americans. When the government gets out of the way, the free market can thrive and that’s one thing the Trump administration understands.