Net Neutrality Rears its Ugly Head

The FCC is releasing a set of regulations for the Internet soon (they wont be made public for a few days), and from the look of things, it looks like Julian Genachoswki thinks he’s found a way to foist net neutrality on us, despite previous court decisions that said he didn’t have the authority.

I think Jack Shafer at Slate has the best take on the problem that I’ve seen (minus, my own, natch)– the key issue here is whether we should allow the free market or the government to determine how information delivery should be prioritized.

There is, admittedly, a second issue, which is whether or not the broadband companies have the market power to justify regulation.  On this point I’m willing to give some ground– I don’t think, as many have suggested, that the absence of market abuse is good evidence of a diverse marketplace.  Some anti-trust measures are needed to avoid monopolistic rent-seeking.

However, I am not convinced that 1) the FTC doesn’t already have our backs on this, and 2) that net neutrality regulation is the correct anti-trust approach.  If a lack of competition is the problem, then why not adopt a set of policies designed to improve competition?  Dictating the prioritization scheme that the Internet will use is a policy whose popularity exceeds its merits.

In any case, it looks like we’re gearing up for a showdown between libertarians and the netroots-left.  Ought to be fun.

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