Shoot first, ask questions later

The FCC has issued a “Notice of Inquiry” on net neutrality, a move that allows them to take comments on an issue in order to determine whether there’s any reason to consider new regulations. While you’d think net neutrality advocates would be happy about this, they’re anything but. This move calls their bluff, forcing them to produce real evidence of harm in the operation of the Internet, not just wild speculation and fantasy. Art Brodsky at Public Knowledge has a typical reaction:

“The Commission should recognize that the goal of Net Neutrality is to restore the protections for consumers and content providers that were in effect when the Internet started and which allowed the medium to become what it has today. Simply because telephone and cable companies are on their best behavior today, while the Commission and Congress examine the issue, is no reason to delay action to protect consumers and content providers in the future from the actions of network operators which have said they will split the Internet into a privileged fast lane, and a dirt road for everyone else. Waiting until the network operators have implemented those plans and then trying to regulate after the fact, as some have suggested, will not be effective in protecting consumers and protecting innovation. “

PK wants regulations because they sound good, not because they do good, and how dare the FCC collect data before enacting them!

The NN movement is unraveling as more of the Internet’s thought leaders come down on the “wait and see” side. Britain and Canada have rejected it, and one by one the states are passing video franchising laws without a trace of NN regulation. Microsoft has left the NN coalition, and Google is expressing public doubts about their position. So it’s becoming increasingly obvious that NN is a vanity campaign by a few old farts like Vint Cerf who fear advances in technology and some shrieking by “public interest” corporations who thrive on fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The FCC is doing exactly the right thing, slowing down the train and asking for the facts. And NN advocates know that course of action is deadly, because the one thing they can’t deliver is actual evidence of a problem.

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