Net Neutrality: A Bureaucratic Solution in Search of a Non-Existent Problem

May 16, 2014 by AFP

By Kuper Jones

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held an open meeting to vote on a number of issues –one of which was the hotly debated issue of net neutrality. Despite a court ruling in the beginning of the year that struck down key provisions of net neutrality, the agency has approved the item again. The FCC voted with a 3-2 decision on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s notice of proposed rulemaking to revise the open internet rules.  The small victory consumers had with the court ruling earlier this year may now be lost with the FCC’s actions Thursday.  Chairman Wheeler’s proposed revisions to the open internet rules should not be finalized.

The major issue with the Chairman’s proposed revisions is that they are completely unnecessary. The main objective of the rules is to ensure an “open” internet; however, the internet has always been open. Net neutrality proponents claim that without these rules, internet service providers (ISPs) can discriminate against different types of traffic on their servers. Where they are mistaken is that if this problem were to actually occur, there is already an existing solution to address it. The Communications Act grants the FCC the authority to investigate such matters and take administrative actions if they find the public is being harmed. The redundancy in the proposed rules couldn’t be clearer.

Instead of allowing the internet, and consumers, to continue experiencing the same unfettered growth and innovation that they have over the years, the commissioners who voted for the proposal want to dictate the way ISPs manage their property.  The rules would allow ISPs to charge content providers (i.e. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) more money for access to “fast lanes” that provide more bandwidth for their services. There is no need for this to be codified or mandated by government statutes as this has already been in existence for some time.

While the thought of the proposed net neutrality rules being finalized is frightening, the path the three supporting commissioners decided to take when addressing this issue is just as alarming. The commissioners who voted in favor of net neutrality opted for the administrative route. While there will be an open comment period on the rule, these unelected bureaucrats decided they should decide what rules are best for the American people instead of sending the proposal to the officials Americans actually elected: Congress.

The proposed “open” internet order rules are unnecessary and are a threat to internet consumers across the country. The internet is and always has been open. There is no need to codify practices that have been occurring for years. Moreover, the government has no right to tell ISPs how to run their businesses or manage their property if they aren’t harming consumers. The internet has experienced tremendous growth without government interference.