The Case Against Net Neutrality

Mitchell Rolling

The debate on Net Neutrality has resurfaced now that the FCC has decided to readdress the issue. Net Neutrality was implemented in 2015 under the Obama administration. 

Democratic party leaders have used clever language in recent years describing net neutrality, or the “open internet,” as being open, fair, and equal to everybody.

“We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and loser in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” former President Obama said of the policy.

Senator Chuck Schumer has also stated that eliminating net neutrality would cause an “aggravating experience for consumers and potentially bank-breaking consequences for American start-ups.”

They are convincing in making their point. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a neutral internet? Without net neutrality, the Democrats claim, Internet Service Providers companies would charge you and every online streaming business more for using internet services. 

Democrats have used the discussion on Net Neutrality to yet again give Americans a reason to fear big business. 

Now let’s do something that we should all do when Chuck Schumer tells us anything: immediately assume he is lying and fact check him. 

Net Neutrality does all the things proponents of the policy. It has rules that prohibit business practices including blocking legitimate websites from being seen, “throttling” internet services by providing them at slower speeds, and giving preference to certain internet services.  

But what proponents of Net Neutrality don’t tell you is that there are other conditions included in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, the legal basis for the Open Internet Order of 2015

Title II creates an ISP business market entirely controlled by the FCC. Under its provisions, ISPs must submit any new technologies or business models to the FCC for approval before implementation.

The FCC can then either decline their request for approval, permit the request, or require more information. Their decision cannot be appealed, but only reversed at the will of the FCC. This process costs time and money for ISPs, which is why they are advocating so hard to deregulate the internet service market. 

The FCC can also levy additional taxes on ISPs, which are already highly taxed, and they have full control over which businesses can enter the ISP market. According to the American Action Forum, Title II put “nearly $1 trillion of GDP and 2.5 million jobs under a new regulatory regime.”

Net Neutrality, in other words, is Obamacare for internet service providers. 

Democrats are arguing for the nationalization of an American business industry with the same excuse they always use; in the name of fairness, equality, and openness. Instead of allowing ISPs to “pick winners and losers in the online marketplace,” Obama and fellow Democrats want the government to be the ones picking the winners and losers.

Eliminating Net Neutrality and Title II regulations will end the restriction of innovation on ISPs and may result in lowered prices for individual customers, as the companies themselves have argued. 

The FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, has also noted that since implementing Title II, “[a]mong our nation’s 12 largest [ISPs], domestic broadband capital expenditures decreased by 5.6%, or $3.6 billion, between 2014 and 2016.”

The case against Net Neutrality doesn’t end at crippling regulations. There has been reason to question the usefulness of such regulations in the first place. For instance, National Review in 2010, the FCC could only cite four examples of the business practices that the regulations prevent. Also, these cases were “all relatively minor.”

For all the fear-mongering of the Democrats, there is little to worry about dismantling Net Neutrality.