Think Tanks Mock Net Neutrality With Fake Amendment
from the missing-the-point dept
While most of the press attention today on net neutrality is about how the House rejected net neutrality language, there’s one side story that’s a bit disappointing, in that it shows how low some think tanks and politicians have stooped in this debate. Declan McCullough, over at News.com, plays along with a silly and misleading attempt by some think tanks and a Congressman to mock network neutrality support, by introducing an obviously stupid amendment to apply “neutrality” to all companies that do business on the internet — such as Google or Amazon. So, for example, the backers of the bill claim, Amazon couldn’t do an exclusive deal with Toys R Us, because that would be “discriminatory.” They put forth this bill and support it with idiotic quotes from the same think tanks that have been against network neutrality, by saying this proves the bad logic of supporting network neutrality. Except, it doesn’t. All it shows is that these think tanks either don’t actually understand what network neutrality means (doubtful) or are being purposely misleading in describing what it means. Obviously, some may say that it’s no surprise these think tanks would be purposely misleading, but you would hope that they would at least take the debate seriously.
Through out this debate, we’ve tried to stay pretty neutral, while pointing out problems with the arguments on both sides, but the statements in this article are really bad. It’s yet another case of think tanks (including our friends over at the Progress & Freedom Foundation) setting up a totally bogus strawman, and then destroying it to support their argument. The point of network neutrality isn’t some Utopian “everyone must be equal” concept — but a real concern for a lack of competition in the broadband space. The telcos were given a ton of money in subsidies and incentives to build out a wired, natural monopoly network. The government gave them rights of way which no one else can get. In exchange, they had to open their networks up to others to provide services. In other countries, this has resulted in robust competition and better services — which was the point.
With companies like Google and Amazon, that doesn’t apply. There was no government granted natural monopoly. There are no rights of way issues. There were no subsidies and incentives in exchange for promises that weren’t met. There is no stifling of competition. The purpose of network neutrality isn’t a Utopian vision, but a simple response to a natural monopoly where competition is going to lead to better results. To pretend otherwise for the sake of a cheap publicity stunt is really a sad move by a group of people who clearly have no desire to actually discuss the root of the issue.