Jeb Bush Proudly Promises To Axe Net Neutrality If Elected
from the going-backwards dept
The Jeb Bush campaign this week unveiled a major part of the candidate’s technology platform, and it likely includes taking a hatchet to net neutrality rules. The new policy outline on Bush’s website spends some time butchering the very definition of net neutrality as well, parroting several long-standing incumbent ISP narratives that net neutrality is somehow about content companies not paying their fair share, or that modernization of existing rules is somehow “antiquated.” Indeed, Bush’s definition of net neutrality is rather unique:
“The Federal Communications Commission?s Net Neutrality rule classifies all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as ?public utilities,? subjecting them to antiquated ?common carrier? regulation. Rather than enhancing consumer welfare, these rules prohibit one group of companies (ISPs) from charging another group of companies (content companies) the full cost for using their services.”
Except as we’ve been over this ad nauseum; net neutrality isn’t about prohibiting ISPs from charging content companies, it’s about mammoth broadband providers abusing the lack of last-mile competition to give themselves a leg up in emerging markets. I assume the Bush campaign is referencing the FCC’s plan to police interconnection deals between ISPs and the likes of Netflix, something that has actually improved the health of the Internet already. Bush doesn’t appear to understand this (or is pretending not to understand this), and proceeds to trot out examples of some poor, little ISPs that will be hurt by the FCC’s push to encourage a healthier Internet:
“Small broadband operators?like KWISP (475 customers in rural Illinois) and Wisper ISP (8,000 customers near St. Louis, Mo)?have declared under penalty of perjury that the Net Neutrality rule has caused them to cut back on investments to upgrade and expand their networks.”
Any ISP or WISP that has actually cut back on necessary infrastructure investment due the FCC’s net neutrality rules frankly either doesn’t understand them, or is playing personal partisan patty cake. Even the nation’s lumbering mega-ISPs, who’ve fought net neutrality tooth and nail, have admitted (through their own SEC filings and earnings reports) that their network investment is as healthy as ever. As noted recently, if there are network investment declines, data suggests they’ve got nothing to do with net neutrality. That net neutrality kills network investment is a dated, disproven dodo that simply won’t die.
The Bush policy missive then parrots the idea that the FCC imposed net neutrality rules in “relative obscurity,” despite a decade filled will countless open meetings, roundtables, and endless (sometimes nauseatingly so) conversation:
“Agencies today make far more laws than legislators. But unlike courts and legislators, regulators conduct their deliberations in relative obscurity, often outside of the public?s view and effectively accountable to no one, not even the president.”
That’s just the thing though: net neutrality was passed by regulators only after an unprecedented groundswell of public support demanded protections. It’s about protecting consumers and small businesses from the AT&T, Verizon and Comcast’s of the world in the absence of competition. Bush is too busy pandering to the mega-ISPs to bother mentioning what his solution for this lack of broadband competition is, or if he’s even capable of admitting a lack of competition exists. But in standing up for the mega-ISPs Jeb makes it pretty clear his technology policies are dated somewhere around 2002 or so.
None of this is surprising, since earlier this year Bush proudly declared that net neutrality was the “craziest idea he’s ever heard.” Of course the craziest idea I’ve heard is a candidate running in 2016 who thinks it’s a smashing idea to defend AT&VerizoCast, and walk back a decade of progress on a subject it’s abundantly clear he doesn’t actually understand.