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Legislating envy? Read good Op Ed in Canada opposing Net neutrality

Hal Singer of Criterion Economics has a very good commentary today in Canada's Financial Post called "Not Neutrality."

Hal is a very clear thinker and anyone who quotes Milton Friedman in a supportive way is alright by me.

One passage of Hal's commentary really hits the nail on the head about how insidious net neutrality is:

  • "Although the idea has taken on many meanings, net neutrality is fundamentally about denying a voluntary exchange between two consenting parties for the sake of equal outcomes. The argument goes something like this: If my Web site cannot afford certain bells and whistles to make real-time applications run better, then my rivals should be prevented by law from purchasing those enhancements from any broadband service provider."

Rock the Net: a bad "lip synching" performance of Moveon.org's song

The Future of Music has created a supposed new "coalition" "Rock the Net" to promote net neutrality by banding together music groups who have been suckered into fearing that the Internet will somehow be taken away from them -- without net neutrality legislation.

This is not about policy or legislation.  

This is a cheap publicity stunt.

"Rock the net" is basically a bad "lip synching performance" by music groups singing liberal Moveon.org's pre-canned song.

  • No musician at their Rock the Net press conference showed any understanding whatsoever of the net neutrality issue or how musicians might be threatened without NN legislation. 
  • They just "lip synched" Moveon.org's lyrics. 

"Lip synching" is the perfect metaphor for the supposed net neutrality grass roots "movement" overall.

"Put up or shut up" time: FCC launches Notice of Inquiry on NN

The most relevant part of the FCC launching a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) into the net neutality issue was FCC Bureau Chief Tom Navin testifying that no one has formally complained about blocking and no one has formally petitioned the FCC on the matter. 

  • In other words, there is no there there.

The FCC is launching an NOI to cut through the hysteria and misdirection and finally get the facts on the record.

  • The NOI is basically the FCC saying its "put up or shut up" time.
  • Make your case or go away.

While I don't think this bogus and completely unsubstantiated issue is even worthy of an NOI, I can understand why the FCC would want to launch an NOI to ensure that no one can say the FCC is not taking this issue seriously.

Former UK official eviscerates NN as "extreme" and "impractical"

An article in the Register on the first significant NN debate in the UK is a wonderful read.

It is always helpful to get the reaction of an outside perspective to cut to the quick of an issue.

  • Alun Michael, the former UK trade minister "described the clamour for preemptive technical legislation as "extreme... unattractive and impractical"
    • "It was, he said "an answer to problems we don't have, using a philosophy we don't share.""
  • The current top UK regulator over the net neutrality issue Douglas Scott "concluded by saying neutrality wasn't an issue, so long as customers could migrate to an alternative provider quickly and easily."  

I reccommend reading the whole article.

FCC affirming no NN for wireless broadband cements dereg precedents

The most important development for a free market Internet in the last several weeks was the FCC's  5-0 decision March 22nd to declare wireless broadband an unregulated information service.

  • In laymans terms, the FCC officially and unanimously declared that net neutrality is NOT required for wireless broadband going forward. 

Why is this a big deal?

  • The FCC legally cemented the policy precedent of regulatory parity -- for broadband de-regulation.
    • The FCC applied the Supreme Court's seminal "Brand X" de-regulatory ruling that declared cable modems an unregulated info service (2002) -- to all other mainstream broadband facilities, DSL (2005), BPL (2006) and now wireless broadband (2007).      
    • The legal facts of the FCC reiterating the same policy and technology parity logic repeatedly over several years creates a powerful phalanx of deregulatory legal precedent that future regulators will be hard-pressed to reverse piecemeal.
  • If a future FCC Chairman, say a Commissioner Copps in a potential Democratic Administration, wanted to apply Carterfone-like regulations to only wireless, that FCC ruling would likely be ruled in court to be arbitrary and capricious because it singled out wireless and treated that broadband technology much differently than other analogous broadband technologies: cable modem, DSL and BPL.
    • To be fair and legal, the FCC would have to apply new regulations in a technologically-neutral way.
  • What the FCC decided is that wireless is NOT different in a policy or legal sense.
    • This makes it much harder to legally and politically justify any eBay-Skype petition for Carterfone rules for wireless.
    • The savy observer will appreciate that this FCC ruling effectively moots the eBay-Skype petition to apply Carterfone rules to wireless.
      • I fully expect people will continue to talk about wireless Carterfone rules.
      • However, when they have to talk about it in the context of the FCC's Notice of Inquiry into NN, they will find it extremely difficult to justify that wireless is different and requires special rules.

Well done FCC!  Great de-regulatory box out!

The U.S. is way ahead of Europe on broadband!

Only 40% of European Union homes have Internet access and only 16% have broadband, according to EC Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva who spoke yesterday at the Digital World Conference in Berlin.

  • Those lagging numbers are in stark contrast to America's performance where 70+% of American homes have Internet access and 45+% have broadband according to FCC data.

NN proponents have tried to manufacture that there is a broadband crisis in the U.S. and that we are falling behind the rest of the world. It just isn't true.

  • That's why I wrote the commentary "America's Unique Internet success" in the Washington Times a couple of weeks ago, in order to debunk this fabrication designed to create a reason for the Government to intervene in the broadband marketplace.
  • America has a great broadband policy and strategy -- its called competition and deregulation!
    • And it works!
      • The Internet is the single greatest deregulation success of all time.
      • And the U.S. has substantially more facilities-based broadband competition than any other nation in the world.

Europeans see NN as away to undermine U.S. Competitiveness

Net neutrality is not only a domestic issue but also a policy weapon some Eurocrats see as a way to undermine American competitiveness to Europe's advantage.

  • Make no mistake, NN has a powerful competitiveness, trade and foreign policy dimension.
    • Keeping the Internet free of regulation and promoting competition and the deployment of new technologies are critical to maintaining America's competitiveness.
  • Other nations are begining to see the NN concept as a clever way to slow down U.S. innovation and "level the playing field" through regulation to improve their competitive position relative to the U.S.
    • Some of the more socialist-minded nations like France are beginning to see that they can advance relatively, if they can slow U.S. innnovation down -- with "competition" restrictions that favor the EC and relatively disadvantage the U.S.

Why I wrote my commentary, "America's Unique Internet success" in the Washington Times a couple of weeks ago," was to drive home this important insight that America truly is unique when it comes to the Internet

More disarray in the ItsOurnet coalition?

I read with interest and amusement Drew Clark's piece on GigaOM about "Is Google changing its position on Net neutrality?".

  • My key point is what is Google's official position on Dorgan-Snowe, the highest profile Net neutrality bill which is co-sponsored by Democratic Presidential Candidates: Senators Clinton and Obama?
    • That is what matters. The rest is just backchatter, interesting though it is.

Drew Clark's piece in GigaOM is one of the better reports I've seen outlining the increasing disarray of the ItsOurNet coalition, the front group for online giants promoting net neutrality legislation.

Kudos to Cisco's Pepper on excellent NN editorial in TechNewsWorld

Dr. Bob Pepper of Cisco, and formerly a top policy advisor to several FCC Chairman, wrote an excellent opinion piece in TechNewsWorld: "Network Neutrality: Avoiding a Net Loss". 

  • Why it is a good read is the clarity of thought about how market forces, not regulation, has been the key to empowering consumers and creating freedom of choice.

China reining in Bloggers -- and NN wants Govt to protect free speech?

Reuters is reporting that China's chief censor will tighten control of bloggers in China.

NN proponents in the U.S. have ignorantly been calling NN the "First Amendment of the Internet."

  • These people clearly have not read the First Amendment or had any history on the origin and motivation behind our wonderful American First Amendment constitutional protections.
  • The First Amendment prevents GOVERNMENT from restricting people's free speech.
    • Our Founding Fathers understood that threats to freedom come from GOVERNMENT not individuals of companies.

I really don't think NN proponents have thought this one through.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths