Me wanting to keep what is mine or you wanting to take what isn’t yours?
Apart from, y’know, that whole “property rights” thing. But no-one except we wacky libertarians believe in those, so here’s the rest.
These are some reposts of posts to my old blog, which seemed apposite since a pro-net-neutrality Tumblr started following me as of yesterday.
Why I Oppose “Net Neutrality”
Because while it’s a wonderful idea in theory, and certainly one which I, Mister-Just-Move-My-Goramn-Packets-And-STFU, should prefer in an ideal world, this isn’t an ideal world.
And because while in theory what it means is that all traffic will be treated as equal from now on, and all Internet users link hands and skip off joyfully into the sunset singing happy songs, that’s not what it means in practice.
In practice, what it means is that greatly expanded power to regulate the Internet will be given to the FCC.
Now, I’m a cynical libertarian, and as such, in a universe where the majority of our politicians are bought and paid for by special interests, a lot of which are corporatist special interests, I think the whole notion that this is likely to lead to less corporate control over Internet traffic is somewhere between touchingly naive and out-and-out delusional. But I’m not going to talk about that today, because I’m told I should try to overcome my Cassandra complex.
But what you should realize is that once you hand the FCC the power to regulate the Internet in this way, it’s a nice gateway for all kinds of other crap that various parties would really love to see regulated.
If you’re a Democrat, try to imagine how dumb you’ll feel once the social conservatives get hold of your nice regulatory engine and pass the No Fucking Obscenity On The Internet Act, m’kay?
If you’re a Republican, try to imagine the joy of the wackiest “hate speech” laws and, hell, campus-like speech codes as brought to you by the new Ideologically Correct^W^WSafer Websites For Children And Minorities Act. Which isn’t even to mention the progressive wing and its desire to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. As applied to your blog/twitter/and hell, probably e-mail, too.
If you remember the DMCA and the SSSCA with, shall we say, the same degree of warmth and affection that I do, why exactly do you want to hand the power to invent more fun things along the same line to the Senator from Disney?
And, finally, if you give even one single crap about civil liberties, do you really want to give the Department of Homeland Security more cover to do what they’re probably doing anyway?
Well, of course you do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching politics these last twenty years or so, it’s that nice-sounding, happy-fluffy intentions count for everything, and the actual results, no matter how giant a bloody wretched screw-up they turn out to be, don’t matter at all.
“Net Neutrality”, 04/07/2010
So, a federal appeals court has struck a blow to Net Neutrality, apparently, by telling the FCC that no, they don’t have the power to do that.
Shrug. Well, while something like net neutrality has a certain appeal in the ideal world in which it would be administered by incorruptible and generally awesome angelic beings - natural monopolies posing something of a problem, in market terms - I’m still not exactly worried about the whole thing.
After all, despite telcos in general being run by vile, demonic creatures with oozing black ichor pulsing through their veins in place of blood, except of course for Comcast, whose executives do have blood in their veins, albeit obtained by sucking the juice from babies and cute kittens, there are two things I would like to note:
One, Comcast backed down, without so much as a regulatory finger-wag, demonstrating the likely reaction of the market and the consumer to this sort of thing.
And two, the alternative isn’t The Wonders Of The Wild Open Internet. The alternative is the Internet being regulated by Congress, an organization so manifestly inept at managing anything that were it to be tasked with organizing a piss-up in a brewery and an orgy in a whorehouse, I have every confidence that it would slink back a week later with nothing to show for it but a massive case of Brewer’s Droop. Which it would then declare to be success.
Now that’s a thought even more horrifying than leaving it in the hands of The Evil Telcos, as far as preserving Internet freedom and innovation are concerned, or has everyone else forgotten the CDA, the DMCA and the SSSCA already? And if you think that they wouldn’t use the former as a back door for the latter, I have a Capitol to sell you. No charge. But you have to take the contents, too.
“Three Observations Explain The New Net Neutrality Rules”, 12/21/2010
Observe the following three facts:
Conclusion: What we actually have is a classic example of regulatory capture, in which these regulations will protect the existing incumbent telcos from competition, but do pretty much bugger all else effective (in other words, both the Democrats and the Republicans are right, for once). Which is approximately half of what I said would happen, so if you’ll give me a moment, I’ll decide whether or not to complain about being Cassandra again, or just get out the big book of schadenfraude recipes.
I await with interest the other half of what I said would happen, and will be fascinated to see whether it turns out to be The RIAA Strikes Back, We Must Purge The Web Of Hate (Speech), or the Seven Words You Can’t Say On The Internet, Unless You Host Them In Canada.
P.S. I don’t need to be fascinated any longer. The Obama Administration has since been kind enough to inform us that the RIAA is in charge this month.
They say Google is under attack in Washington:
But there are also increasing calls from some Silicon Valley competitors and Washington-based public interest groups for the Justice Department to launch a sweeping antitrust probe of Google. The European Union and the state of Texas have reviews under way.
Google says its rivals are fueling the attacks.
Of course, in a sense, Google had it coming. The company has been the biggest cheerleader in the push to impose “Net neutrality” regulation on the Internet’s physical infrastructure providers, which would let the FCC toss property rights out the window and regulate broadband networks to their heart’s content.
Meanwhile, along with Skype and others, Google wants the FCC to impose “openness” mandates on wireless networks that would allow the agency to dictate terms of service. It’s no surprise, then, that the cable, telco, and wireless crowd are firing back and now hinting we need “search neutrality” to constrain the search giant’s growing market power. File it under “mutually assured destruction” for the Information Age.
Well, like the article I cite says, ‘“The high-tech policy scene within the Beltway has become a cesspool of backstabbing politics, hypocritical policy positions, shameful PR tactics, and bloated lobbying budgets.” The telcos, the broadcasters, the wireless industry, the entertainment industry — they all want the federal government to crush their competitors.’
Honestly, the only bad thing about all of this mutual backstabbing party between all the computer/telecoms industry’s most disgusting corporatist rent-seekers is that ultimately, one of them may come close to getting what they want out of it. So much better if they all could lose, go spectacularly out of business, and be replaced by someone who, y’know, deigns to actually compete.
In the meantime, though, I’m just going to sit back and tuck into a large serving of delicious Schadenfreude Pie.
…thank you for providing:
Yes, I’m talking about the new ban on unlimited Internet access plans, courtesy of the Canadian telecom regulator. Essentially, rather than actually, y’know, responding to market demand by providing all the bandwidth people want, the big telcos have arranged for the no-doubt-captured regulator to forbid their competition from selling unlimited-access plans.
(Read about it in the Vancouver Sun here. And yes, it talks about the small ISPs purchasing bandwidth from the telcos. You might think that that meant the telcos selling it had some sort of contractual obligation to deliver that bandwidth consistently to their customers, but nooooo. Far easier to regulate them out of the ability to resell it the way they should reasonably be able to.)
In short: another giveaway to big, incumbent corporations at the expense of the small business and the poor hapless consumer, delivered to you by Your Friends In The Regulatory State. And yet another demonstration of how, well, The Libertarians Are Always Right.
(Mike Hoye offers a slightly different perspective here; his conclusion is that it’s about the big ISPs, who also happen to be cable companies, wanting to prevent people from watching television delivered over the Internet in order to protect their cable-television business.
Which is also perfectly plausible, and, incidentally, also perfectly fits the regulatory-capture/incumbent-protection narrative I propose just about perfectly. You see what I mean about Always Right?)