Washington, D.C., April 21, 2008—Tomorrow the Senate Commerce Committee assesses “The Future of the Internet.” Among the most controversial issues is proposed federal regulation of broadband network traffic—or “network neutrality.”
Advocates of net neutrality would require that multi-billion communications networks manage traffic according to allegedly “non-discriminatory” regulatory guidelines. Different tiers of service to different kinds of clients would be treated with suspicion.
“Elevating the principle of mandatory net neutrality above the principles of investor ownership and wealth creation would drive investment away from vitally important infrastructure development,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews. “And we do need it: we’re already seeing emerging bottlenecks on the Internet caused, not by anyone’s blockage, but by escalating demand for multimedia content. Growing hand-in-hand in response to market demand, private infrastructure companies can handle any traffic growth; with neutrality, it’s in no one’s interest.
“Much of the neutrality debate hinges on ordinary, resolvable business conflicts between network and content owners. Neutrality proponents include corporate titans, and the battle can properly resolve in the marketplace. The regulatory regime unleashed to administer ‘neutrality’ would surely become detested by both sides as the years unfold.
“The underlying premise of net neutrality is that infrastructure companies should not control content, but that it’s perfectly acceptable for content companies, with the help of government regulation, to control infrastructure. The implications of entrenching this idea further in law are extremely serious,” said Crews.
For a brief video treatment the net neutrality debate, see “The Simpleton’s Guide.” See also Wayne Crews’ article Dumb Pipes, a Dumb Idea: Net Neutrality as 21st Century Socialism and FCC comments filed June 15, 2007 and February 12, 2008.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.