Bri Manning

The Death of Net Neutrality

June 14, 2018

It’s finally happened. Those who believe in the freedom of big businesses over the interests of the consumer have won. I’ve discussed this at length with friends and coworkers. Only the most libertarian-minded agree with the repeal of Net Neutrality. I understand that mentality, but they don’t realize that this was just the backdoor into regulatory capture by first crushing the competition and then making sure they can squeeze every other company around them.

I can understand their ideas and arguments though.

What I cannot understand are the lies from Ajit Pai to justify his decision and this ruling. From the New York Times article:

Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited.

On the Hacker News discussion of that article, someone quickly amassed cases where this simply wasn’t true. I’ll summarize them with sources here:

These are cases that ISPs lost. Cases where it was proven that these companies were “engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited.” And half of what they did was while they were still subjected to the Open Internet Order of 2010. It’s right there in public record that these things occurred. In addition, they occurred while these companies weren’t supposed to do what they were doing.

And they’ll do it again.

This time I think the companies will be sneakier about it. They learned their lesson that they needed to bide their time and wait it out. Now they won’t want to look like the bad guys so they’ll take their time and roll out surreptitious, non-consumer facing changes. That will avoid public anger while still padding their bottom line and providing legal fodder for when this comes up again in court. If it ever does.

Actual regulation in the name of the consumer died when Sirius and XM were allowed to merge. Now that AT&T has acquired Time Warner, it’s clear we’re in for dark times ahead. It’s going to be the times of siloed monopolies and oligopolies. Executives at AT&T and Time Warner are surely high-fiving each other this week as they get to start putting into place just what proponents of Net Neutrality fear.

Welcome to the new era: the freedom of big businesses have won at the expense of the interests of the consumer.