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My case against net neutrality from my PLI debate with Gigi Sohn today

I debated Gigi Sohn of Public Knowlege today on net neutrality at the annual PLI conference here in Washington.

Here is the essence of my opening remarks -- a concise case against net neutrality.

Three main points:

  1. Net neutrality is a bogus issue.
  2. Net neutrality would set America back.
  3. The burden of proof is on those who want to change the law and change the Internet. 

1. Net neutrality is a bogus issue -- there is no problem to solve.

  • There is no consumer harm. Prices are falling. Choice and speeds are increasing. Broadband investment and deployment is healthy. There is an explosion of new products and innovation.
  • Net neutrality is based on hypothetical and unsubstantiated allegations. There is only one documented example of blocking -- Madison River which the FCC dealt with swiftly. Net neutrality would punish over 2000 broadband companies for the sin of one.
  • Existing laws are more than sufficient to address any potential net neutrality problem. FCC, FTC and DOJ all have existing authority and have stated they are vigilantly watching for any potential problems. The FTC Chairman said there have been no complaints and that no one has been able to explain the problem.

2. Net neutrality would set America back.

  • It would reverse eleven years of bipartisan policy to not regulate the Internet.
  • It would reverse eleven years of bipartisan policy to promote competition and promote new technology deployment.
  • It would stall private broadband investment and deployment.
  • It would force the government to tax and spend to achieve universal broadband.
  • It would undermine America's competitiveness in that it would forfeit America's unique achievement of producing real intermodal broadband competition.

3. The burden of proof and the onus is on net neutrality proponents to:

  • Define the problem, and document evidence to prove there is a problem;
  • Make the case for changing the law of the land and changing the Internet;
  • Craft legislation that can resolve major objections and achieve sufficient consensus.
  • Assuage concerns over unintended consequences by ensuring that net neutrality does not:
    • Threaten the economy, job creation, broadband investment, or universal broadband;
    • Lessen competition, consumer choice, or innovation; or
    • Slow or degrade the Internet or create congestion.
  • Get House approval at the subcommittee, committee and full house levels; get Senate approval at the committee and floor level (with 60 votes), Get the House and Senate to agree in conference, and then get the priesident to sign it.

My conclusion was direct and simple: "The Internet ain't broke so don't fix it."

  • "Don't screw up the Internet!"