Internet Provider Sonic's CEO: Title II Is Only A Regulatory Burden If You're Doing Something Bad
from the it's-that-simple dept
A few weeks back, I was a guest on the famed TWiT netcast, on a special episode mostly about net neutrality. You can see it at that link (I tried to embed, but it appears, unfortunately, that TWiT doesn’t do HTTPS embeds — something I hope the TWiT folks will fix in the near future).
However, this post has nothing to do with me being on the show, but rather something that was said by Sonic’s CEO Dane Jasper concerning net neutrality and Title II: that Title II is only a “regulatory burden” if you’re an ISP that’s doing bad stuff to consumers. Much of the first hour was a discussion between Jasper and another small ISP owner, Brett Glass, who has been rather vehement in his dislike of net neutrality or Title II. Glass brought up a key talking point that big ISPs and other anti-Title II people have made repeatedly: that using Title II would be a huge regulatory burden, “burying ISPs in red tape” (as Glass noted). Yet Jasper explained how that’s just not true, and, in fact, he’s not at all worried about the “regulatory burden” because as long as he’s not doing anything to muck up your connection, there’s basically no additional regulatory issue (this is from about 27 minutes into the show):
Dane: I think that the more substantial risk is to the Internet and web properties, particularly new innovative web properties. If there isn’t some regulation around what carriers who dominate the marketplace can do to that traffic. So that I see, the threat to the Internet is the top priority, and Brett talks about an insurmountable amount of red tape. Today, Internet service providers are required to publish for the FCC a disclosure of traffic management practices. So we publish a disclosure. I think it says we don’t touch your bits. We don’t modify, we don’t filter, we don’t engage in deep pack inspection. So, I think from a compliance perspective, if the assumption is that Title II will be by and large gutted, or rather they engage in forbearance of all provisions and begin to re-enable provisions that allow them to assure the traffic is treated equally, my expectation is those of use that treat traffic equally will have a pretty light regulatory burden.
This line has stuck with me, because the argument that Title II is burying service providers in regulation just keeps coming up. It was brought up recently by Mark Cuban in the comments to our post about Cuban’s view of net neutrality. And yet, the key parts of Title II that are important for these net neutrality rules are really pretty limited. Sections 201 and 202 are the key ones, and do very little in terms of adding “red tape” to being an ISP. They just talk about not allowing the service provider to engage in unreasonable discrimination.
Yet, as Dane notes, so long as you stick to net neutrality, and you make it clear to the FCC (as is already required) that you don’t muck with people’s connections, the actual “regulatory burden” will be absolutely minimal. And that’s from someone who will clearly have to deal with it. So, that should probably make you wonder: when ISPs argue that there will be a massive regulatory burden associated with Title II, just what sorts of games are they planning to play with your traffic to encounter such a regulatory burden?