By Sam Batkins
The views expressed are his own.
In 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose.” Following his election to the Presidency, he threw the democratic process in the backseat when his appointees implemented net neutrality without congressional approval.
Thanks to this regulatory end-around, net neutrality is currently law, but it doesn’t have to be. Courts could strike it down before they review the President’s health care mandate, or Congress could take the first bite, rescinding the regulation under the little-known Congressional Review Act.
Net neutrality has received intense scrutiny for more than five years but the arguments against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) power grab have hardly changed, and given the current economic climate, the arguments have only gotten stronger. The only thing that has changed is the FCC’s evolving justification for its implementation.
First, the FCC’s new net neutrality rules regulating Internet providers are price controls, plain and simple. Anyone paying more for their debit card or noticing the paucity of free checking these days ought to know the consequences of government rate-setting.
Net neutrality explicitly bans “pay for priority” arrangements between broadband providers and other parties noting that “a commercial arrangement … would raise significant cause for concern.” Price controls alone should be “cause for concern,” not arrangements between private companies competing for subscribers.