Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Gets To The Core Of Net Neutrality Debate: You Need An Open Internet To Have A Free Market
from the the-free-market-is-at-the-service-level dept
"A lot of congressmen say, 'Well, sign up for the free market' and feel that it's just something you should leave to go by itself," said Berners-Lee. "Well yeah, the market works well so long as nobody prints money. So we have rules, okay? You don't steal stuff, for example. The U.S. dollar is something that everyone relies on. So the government keeps the dollar a stable thing, nobody steals stuff, and then you can rely on the free market."In other words, in most cases, you do need some basic rules in place to make sure the free market is functioning fairly. It's why most free market supporters recognize that there's some sort of government role in preventing monopolies or fraud -- situations where the free market can break down. And that is what net neutrality rules would do. That's why free market supporters should be totally on board with net neutrality as well: because it's about making sure that there is a real free market for internet services that are above the infrastructure level.
This is why we find it so frustrating that the big broadband players and those who attack net neutrality as "regulating the internet" keep conflating internet infrastructure with internet services. They're doing it on purpose, of course. But net neutrality is really just about making sure that there is a free market for internet services by making sure that the big broadband providers, who represent terminating monopolies, can't abuse that position to break the free market. Because if that happens, it harms everyone. As Berners-Lee absolutely recognizes, hence his comment about bribery:
"We need rules," said Berners-Lee. "If businesses are to move here and start here rather than start in Europe or Brazil or Australia — they're going to look around and make sure, 'Oh, does the power stay up?' And they'll look for other things. "Is the Internet open?' Will they have to effectively bribe their ISPs to start a new service? That's what it looks like from the outside. It's bribery."You have rules against bribery. You have rules against fraud. You have rules against abusive monopolies. That's to keep the free market functioning. And that's all net neutrality is. It's a way to keep the underlying infrastructure players from totally mucking up the free market in internet services. It's great that Berners-Lee gets this, but it boggles my mind that so-called free marketers still have trouble with this.
Again, none of this is to say that reclassifying under Title II is a perfect solution. It's not. There are risks involved, and there are some legitimate concerns. But compared to all the other options out there (short of Congress getting a clue, which isn't a particularly realistic option), it appears to be the best possible solution. Again, rather than "regulating the internet," it's really just setting the rules to keep the internet a free market.