The organization Free Press has placed a haunting clock on their blog claiming that for the past 23 or so days the Internet has been left unregulated. Oh, the humanity! The problem is the clock is off by a little over 25 years. That's when the first dot-com address was purchased and the Internet began its basically unregulated tenure. And I think it’s fair to say the Web has done quite well for itself since that time.
Free Press is referring to the day this month that a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the Federal Communication Commission has absolutely no authority under current law to regulate the Internet with seemingly benign “Net Neutrality” rules. But since this was the first time the FCC tried to lay down its heavy regulatory hand, it’s not like the Commission had any authority to do it before the court ruling. There is no change of precedent here. For the past 23 days, the law of the land is as it’s been for the past 25 years.
Nevertheless, Neutrality proponents continue to paint this as a sudden crisis. Free Press’s Megan Tady has proclaimed she doesn’t want to “wake up six months from now and find that the Internet has changed forever.” Um…yeah, me either. But this is exactly what Megan Tady, Free Press, and many other Net Neutrality supporters want: to reclassify the Internet under an antiquated regulatory scheme designed in the 1930’s for monopoly telephone service. As we mentioned time and time again, the Internet has never been a heavily regulated entity. In fact, this would mark the FCC’s first major change in Internet policy.
On the other hand, I do want to wake up six months from now and see Internet innovation and adoption continue. Over the past seven years, adoption of broadband has grown from 15% to 63%, while access is available to over 90% of households. Meanwhile, prices have dropped by 23% since 2004, while the overall consumer price index in the U.S. rose by 13%. There are no barriers to creating or accessing any lawful content, and growth in the digital economy continues to outpace the overall economy by roughly four to one. Yet, unnecessarily bludgeoning this innovation over the head with a heavy regulatory hammer is exactly what Free Press and other advocates want to do, and it will most assuredly have a negative impact across the entire Internet ecosphere.
So, it appears I’m the one who doesn’t want to see the Internet changed forever, and Net Neutrality/Title II regulation advocates do. I’d recommend that Free Press reset their clock back a couple decades, and then let it run. Or at least get their backwards rhetoric straight.