“Future of the Internet” at Stake in Senate

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.