Predictable Attempts to Extend Government Control over Internet Content


Last week Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) gave a speech to an Open Markets Institute panel and wrote in The Guardian that he not only wants to preserve government regulation of Internet service providers, but also advocates extending those net neutrality rules to content companies online as well.

My colleague, Wayne Crews, details the myriad problems with this approach here, but if you think you saw this jump from infrastructure regulation to content regulation coming, you can thank Mr. Crews for that too. In 2008 he wrote about how the content companies (the gander) advocating for more government regulation of Internet service providers (the goose) should be careful the precedent they wish for. 

The piling on of all the usual suspects has already begun. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has opened an investigation into whether Google’s data collection practices are running afoul of the state’s consumer-protection or antitrust laws. He won’t be the last attorney general to get himself re-elected and expand his fiefdom by running up a content company’s legal bills. Google advocating in Washington for net neutrality regulations on broadband providers while simultaneously being dragged into every state court to defend themselves against privacy or antitrust violations is both predictable and absurd.

Content companies should take this opportunity to fight against all harmful government restriction on business practices, innovation, and investment for every kind of Internet company. The future of the Internet depends on it.