February 17 2011
Nicole Kurokawa Neily
For the last idea in our "30 Days" series, I'd like to highlight an issue that will touch everyone reading this post - hey, you're on the internet, right? Then you have a stake in this debate!
Suggestion #30: Scrap net neutrality.
The term "net neutrality" is benign - but if fully implemented, the effects on innovation will be chilling. Existing infrastructure is becoming unable to handle the needs of consumers, who are beginning to use more and more bandwidth for applications like YouTube or online gaming. Telecom companies should have the flexibility to charge consumers based on their service needs - yet policies like net neutrality limit the steps that companies can take to recoup the funds needed for such investments. Without additional resources to pay for these much-needed upgrades, all consumers will be stuck using antiquated technology and increasingly slow connections. Sure, everyone might have equal access - but it will be equally poor quality.
The FCC and proponents of net neutrality rules rightly argue that an open Internet encourages investment and innovation, and even [FCC Commissioner Julius] Genachowski acknowledges that some regulation "will stifle innovation, investment and growth." The question we are faced with, however, is not whether we want an open Internet (which we already have), but whether we want an Internet regulated by consumer demands and the market pressures of innovation in technology, or an Internet regulated by government.
Internet users do face a very real threat. It doesn't come from the private broadband providers who may someday conspire to control our access to innovation. The real threat is government regulation which will stifle investment and innovation, raise costs for consumers and businesses, and increase the potential for government censorship of the Internet. Why would we want to take that risk?
Congress should let the market work - and provide technology companies the freedom to price their products as they wish. Consumers will respond accordingly, purchasing the level of service that best meets their needs.
For more information on net neutrality and other tech and telecom issues, I recommend checking out the brand-new Digital Liberty Project, run by Americans for Tax Reform.