Net Neutrality Equals Theft?
from the who's-stealing-what-now? dept
Yesterday, I pointed out, with disbelief, a new report from the Progress and Freedom Foundation that actually claimed that open spectrum discouraged innovation and investment
, despite plenty of clear examples where that was false (WiFi) and other examples where the system they advocated (expensive auctions) resulted in spectrum auctioned off for billions of dollars that was then never used. However, it took barely 24 hours for PFF to top itself. They put on an event, where the co-founder of the group actually said with a straight face: "Net neutrality is, in fact, the theft of property rights from [broadband] infrastructure providers. It's simple regulatory theft -- the transfer of ownership from one group of people to another group of people."
This is wrong on so many levels, it's hard to believe that anyone actually pays good money to PFF for their thoughts on things -- until you realize that the companies paying PFF that good money are those broadband infrastructure providers who don't want network neutrality at all.
First of all, that statement ignores that plenty of broadband infrastructure was built up as a government backed monopoly, using our tax dollars that was later privatized with the promise that it would be kept open and neutral since we all paid for it. While many telcos are now replacing that infrastructure, they still do have the right of way to lay new infrastructure that almost no one else actually haves -- granting them monopoly (or in some cases, duopoly) rights. It's these issues that display the importance of network neutrality. However, if PFF wants to talk about "theft," perhaps they'd like to comment on all of the regulatory subsidies granted to the broadband providers over the years, in exchange for promised services that they never delivered (and probably never will)? That seems a lot more like theft than simply requiring that monopoly infrastructure plays fair with services that run on that infrastructure.