Last updated: August 11, 2010 - 2:14pm
[Commentary] Hard-core Net neutralists like the group Free Press insist that the Verizon-Google Network Neutrality deal isn't sweeping enough to protect the "free and open Internet." But in fact, the Net continues to do just fine without heavy-handed regulation.
As Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, explains, managed services like video streaming, telemedicine, online gaming, and VoIP actually benefit consumers without degrading or blocking traffic, and the Internet has remained "free and open" without regulation for more than four years.
Free Press' Derek Turner decries this as "fake Net neutrality" and would ban all managed services, lest they "secure today's online giants a spot in the fast lane, while everyone else is left fighting over the scraps." Indeed, how dare Internet service providers improve their networks to provide the speed and reliability needed for tomorrow's applications and services? Turner insists that ISPs are simply "protecting themselves from the forces of competition and reducing their need to make investments in capacity expansions," and he demands government action to reverse that.
Actually, he's got it exactly backward: his regulatory regime would restore the old "Ma Bell" common-carrier model of plain-vanilla service and stifling regulation. The path back toward real Internet freedom lies in restoring the presumption of liberty enshrined in the First Amendment--not a sword with which the government can ensure fairness, diversity, or openness, but a shield against government meddling in media, communications, and online markets. That path requires greater faith in the power of technology to break down barriers to entry, disrupt incumbency, and radically transform even sluggish markets. The investment and innovation needed to fuel that relentless process of creative destruction can occur only beyond the long shadow of the regulatory state.
[Szoka and Thierer make hay at the Progress and Freedom Foundation]
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