Home Political The End of “Net Neutrality” is Not the “End of Internet Freedom”

The End of “Net Neutrality” is Not the “End of Internet Freedom”


With “Net Neutrality” legislation being discarded today, the internet is blowing up with article after article stating that this is the end of internet freedom. But is it really?

First and foremost it should be understood that the Obama administrations Net Neutrality regulations, the Open Internet Order, did not do what people are fearing the repeal has turned back – all content has not been treated the same by ISP’s before and it never has.  What they did was erect an awkward permission-and-control regime within the FCC that only affected a small portion of internet technology companies. 

“Net Neutrality” is a beautiful catchphrase but just that. Much like the term “Patriot Act” was used to drum up the support of nationalistic citizens for regulations that were in opposition to their very freedom, Net Neutrality has everyday people fighting for internet regulations which will prevent an even better & freer online experience.

Regulating internet under Title II framework originally created in the 1930’s – so-called net neutrality laws which were implemented just 2 years ago – have slowed down the rate of innovation by forcing companies to spend more on useless compliance issues rather than infrastructure and scaring off investors.

From the beginning of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing in infrastructure to compete year over year with no stoppage, that was until 2 years ago when stiff already outdated regulations were implemented – leading to a 6 percent decline in broadband investment, and even higher costs for newer nimbler companies from entering the marketplace.

Casting broadband providers as enemies of the State looks great politically – everyone hates their cable, phone, electricity, and water companies – but it also makes for lousy economics. Investors want a return on investment – spook them with overbearing regulations, and they’ll leave. It should be pretty telling that the first investigations into companies “breaking Net Neutrality rules” were ISP companies offering free data.

Technically, under current Net Neutrality laws, if T-Mobile chooses to not count Netflix, Spotify, Youtube and a host of other services against your monthly data allowance, that’s not allowed. That’s right, free offerings are illegal in these cases. Not sure about you, but I don’t see how that benefits anyone. Furthermore, the assumption that government regulation will benefit in preventing the cost of internet to go up has been disproven by…every single time the government regulates anything.

This is the same government that spent an amount equal to Facebook’s first six years of operating costs to build a website for healthcare that doesn’t work, the exact same government which cannot keep the country’s bridges from falling down, the same government that has increased school funding by 200% without a single improvement in grades in the last thirty years – even adjusted for inflation- and the same organization that spends 320 times what private industry spends to send a rocket into space. As Digital Marketor Josh Steimle put it in Forbes:

“Think of an industry that has major problems. Public schools? Health care? How about higher education, student loans, housing, banking, physical infrastructure, immigration, the space program, the military, the police, or the post office? What do all these industries and/or organizations have in common? They are all heavily regulated or controlled by the government. On the other hand, we see that where deregulation has occurred, innovation has bloomed, such as with telephony services. Do you think we’d all be walking around with smartphones today if the government still ran the phone system?”The major issue is that Net Neutrality laws are pre-emptive in nature by definition. Why’s that a bad idea? Because we have no idea what is in store for the future of the internet.”

If you regulate pre-emptively you necessarily prevent competition leading to better products. This is why tech giant content curators like Facebook and Google are for it – they’ve become part of the status quo and want it to remain that way. To act like these two megacorporations care about “internet freedom” and that’s why their pro-net neutrality is ridiculous. Both have been shown to censor creators which are antithetical to the political values held by these companies, by demonetizing their videos as well as increasing the barriers to viewing videos.  The same people saying that the end of the internet is coming said that the time Warner-AOL merger in 2000 was the death of instant messaging because they were the only ones “controlling it at the time.”

Even the way internet use by net neutrality proponents is being used presently is outdated. The majority of internet use is not at home, tied to wifi. Rather, it’s carried over between multiple hotspots and mobile networks throughout the day, and as time goes by, that’s going to continue.

This makes it difficult for specific ISP companies to get a stranglehold of your information or a restriction of the information you’re searching for. There’s already a limit on that information through the HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) system.

Net Neutrality is prescriptive and thus likely to serve the interests of existing companies in maintaining a status quo that’s good for them. In terms of enforcement of anti-competitive practices, going back to a system regulated in a case by case basis by the FTC, rather than the FCC, will allow for a more nimble and sane system that doesn’t prevent innovation. Today, with the repeal of Obama’s policy, the system has changed for the better.