I have seen a lot of my friends buying into the panic being set in motion by the media and others regarding the repeal of so-called net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration. Of course the professed goal of the rules was to keep the Internet free and open for innovation. Those rules were put in place in 2015 if I remember correctly. So think back to 2014 and the decades prior to that. Didn’t we have a tremendous amount of growth in the Internet including service providers, websites, and so much more? The Internet did not explode only in the last two years. In fact I could argue that there has been less growth in the last two years than the two years prior to the implementation of the net neutrality rules.
I watched former FCC chairman Robert McDowell being interviewed on MSNBC by Ali Vashi. Of course, Vashi was sounding all the alarms about repealing net neutrality especially the belief that Internet giants like Facebook and Amazon could freeze out startups limiting our access to competitors. I’ve also seen some of the alarmists talk about not being able to set up personal websites for your small business, your music group, your personal blog, and those types of websites. Because there were none of those before net neutrality right?
Former chairman McDowell pointed out that prior to the net neutrality you had the Clayton act, the Sherman act, and the Federal Trade Commission act that kept the Internet open and free prior to 2015 and these very powerful tools would remain in force.
Mr. McDowell pointed out that the so-called net neutrality rules were basically imposing Title 11 regulations from the Communications Act of 1934 upon Internet companies. He pointed out that the imposition of those rules served to stifle competition and innovation as well as investment in the Internet companies because of the onerous regulations and requirements faced by startups. Many people who were able to start Internet companies or websites in the past with very little investment now had to hire a myriad of attorneys and experts just to get their Internet doors open.
Of course as we talked about last week, many people believe that companies like Facebook or Amazon could subsidize faster Internet speeds for themselves, gaining preferential treatment and making it difficult for startups or smaller companies to compete. Mr. McDowell pointed out that, if that were the case, Section I & Section II of the Sherman act and Section III of the Clayton act would be triggered for their antitrust violations and prevent that from happening. People and companies successfully used those regulations prior to 2015 and they will continue to use them in the future. It worked pretty well prior to 2015, didn’t it?
Of course the facts are not going to get in the way of many on the left as they run through their Chicken Little, “the sky is falling” emotional arguments to gin up the ignorant masses.