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Tech at Night: The home stretch for Net Neutrality

Tech at Night

Good evening. In case you missed it, I weighed in with great detail on the Level 3/Comcast/Netflix flap, getting down to the basics to unravel the issue technically.

But tonight we discuss Net Neutrality. House Republican Reps. Cliff Stearns and Joe Barton fired a warning shot, challenging the FCC to justify any action it takes this month, so now that’s an issue getting some attention. ISPs are already scoffing at one proposed legal avenue because it’s ridiculous. Net Neutrality has zero to do with deploying high speed Internet access, and in fact such regulations would likely hinder deployment. Even left-wing universal access folk have been saying that for ages.

I guess it’s a good thing various big names turned down stimulus bucks for deployment.

Of course, we’re all making our final pitches right now. Seton Motley points out the basic fact that legally, nothing has changed since the federal courts told the FCC it has no authority to enact Net Neutrality regulations. It’s not something it’s allowed to do. The Congress deregulated and that’s final unless a new law is passed.

Meanwhile some of the Net Neut supporters are engaging in doublethink: They simultaneously claim Net Neutrality is not a new regulation… while asking for new regulation. Yeah, that’s what they’re down to.

Of course, we’re lucky. The FCC could still be seriously discussing disastrously bad proposals, such as the Title II Reclassification scheme to declare that ISPs are now phone companies, and try to regulate the Internet with the same kinds of price and content controls that New Deal Democrats thought made sense for phone companies in the 1930s. That would have been terrible.

Instead it’s looking like the final Net Neut regulations will be mild. It’s not great, but it’s not horrible either. Free Press President Josh Silver calls it “fake Net Neutrality.” Tim Wu only scores it 2.5 out of 5. The left is not happy.

Meanwhile, since Google defeated Search Neutrality at the FTC, they’re busily going along making their search service even less neutral than before by rigging the algorithms to punish disfavored firms even more than before. The fact is, Google would never tolerate ISPs rigging their routing in secret, and Google search has higher nationwide market share than any ISP. It must be neat to have friends in the White House.

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