Net Neutering: Isn't It Great That This Old Lady Is Going To Take Us To Her House And Give Us Candy?

I read a number of tech sites like Engadget every day, and am just shocked at the continued happy puppy reactions to the FCC's takeover of the web.  The articles can all be summarized as "Hey, isn't it awesome this old lady is taking us to her house in the woods and giving us free candy?"

Daniel Henninger shares my reaction:

Washington’s seizure of the Internet is one of the great case studies in the annals of political naïveté.

Over several years, leading lights of the Web—among them Netflix,Google and Tumblr—importuned the Obama White House to align itself with the cause of net neutrality.

“Net neutrality,” like so many progressivist-y causes—climate change, health care for all—is a phrase designed to be embraced rather than understood.

But net neutrality had real meaning. Its core idea was that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, a Washington agency whose employees have been regulating communications since 1934, should design and enforce a price mechanism for the Internet. Up to now, nobody did that.

In February the FCC did, and on that day the Little Red Riding Hoods of net neutrality found out what big teeth grandma has. The FCC said its plans to regulate the Web were in a 332-page document, which no one can see until the agency is ready....

Mr. Karp and the rest of the 20-something and 30-something Peter Pans in the app development world should find their way to the 80-something communications lawyers and lobbyists retired in Florida for a tutorial on what it’s like trying to get Washington off your back once it has climbed on. Here’s the tweet-length version: You are going to pay and pay and pay. To save you, Washington will bleed you....

No one can do business until they first run it through the Beltway bosses. For the K Street corridor, it’s the golden age all over again.

As I wrote before, isn't anyone in tech worried that the government used a semi-imaginary problem that perhaps required a flyswatter to address to justify acquiring 16-inch naval guns?


  1. Don:

    This was all about jobs. The telcos are getting out of the phone business and moving into the VoIP business. The bureaucrats who were hired to regulate dial tone services were about to become buggy whips. Now they have another eight decades of employment and power.

  2. MNHawk:

    I read DSLReports regularly and for a bunch that's cynical about power in all shapes and sizes, they're sure digging government internet.

  3. Patrick Henry,The2nd:

    "The government is spying on us and its wrong!"
    "Lets give the government more power over the internet because of EVIL internet companies"

    Cognitive dissonance exists even in the minds of smart people.

  4. NL7:

    It seems mostly based on the sense that the Internet is a critical part of life, but ISPs are unresponsive to consumers. So this is a way to feel like there's a counter-balance to ISPs. It's emotional, but not reasoned.

    Premise: Someone should get some leverage over ISPs.
    Premise: Government has the power to seize leverage.
    Conclusion: Government should seize leverage over ISPs.

    None of which relates at all to the regulatory capture when inevitably the FCC starts to see its job as forcing all ISPs to conform to the business practices of Comcast, Time Warner, etc. Most regulators eventually adopt the attitude that the industry standard is the acceptable standard, which is the same thing as saying that you have to beat the biggest incumbent companies at their own business model or else you can't play.

  5. Matthew Slyfield:

    Sorry, Net Neutrality was never about ISPs not being responsive to customers.

    It was, is and ever shall be a fight between the big content providers (Google, Netflix et al) and the major ISPs/backbone operators (Comcast, AT&T et al).

    There is absolutely zero possibility of anything positive for the consumer coming out of this.

  6. SamWah:

    Net Neutrality is a term that sounds great, and conceals the poison inside.

  7. Nimrod:

    "Wow grandma, what a big document you have!"

    "All the better for you to NOT see what's in it my dear!"

  8. Nimrod:

    Aw, come on, don't you know that the government is just people helping other people? Don't you read AlterNet, the authoritative source of all modern scientific belief?

  9. Nimrod:

    Yep, similar situation with the bogus catastrophic climate change hypothesis. Once legitimate environmental concerns are almost completely solved in the west, it's time to manufacture illegitimate concerns so some people can keep their jobs.

    Too bad the illegitimate concerns cause legitimate concerns in third world countries to get ignored. If Greenpeace wants something to do they should go organize anti-pollution protests in China instead of wasting time and money on CO2 in the west.

  10. blackbellamy:

    Why link to a story behind a paywall? Kind of defeats the entire idea of a link, no?

  11. Not Sure:

    Highlight the headline in the article, right click -> search with google, click the first result and read the article. You're welcome :-)

  12. NL7:

    You don't get decide what an issue is "about" in the minds of millions of people debating and pontificating on an issue. For the prototypical nerd, net neutrality is about sticking it to Comcast.

    Telling people who support an issue for personal or ideological reasons that the issue is exclusively about benefiting major corporations will ring hollow. It's like saying that the only reason people support tax cuts is because the wealthy have all the political power - completely ignoring the many millions of non-wealthy people who bear some personal or ideological reason to support lower taxes.

    I'm sure that the content providers entered this battle for their reasons, and the ISPs entered for their reasons. But for the many fans of the Internet who are curiously supporting wholesale micromanaging by the nipplegate people, the reasons are probably not that complicated: they think this limits the damage ISPs can do.

  13. Matthew Slyfield:

    "But for the many fans of the Internet who are curiously supporting wholesale micromanagement by the nipplegate people, the reasons are probably not that complicated: they single-mindedly think this limits the damage
    ISPs can do."

    And if it was only them vs Comcast the FCC would never have gotten involved and nothing the FCC does in terms for regulating the ISPs will be for their benefit.

  14. John the River:

    He's linking to the story because he's interested in commenting on that story, it happens to be behind a paywall (hard for me to tell, I have a WSJ subscription). Here's the thing, the WSJ can and does unlock certain stories or opinion pieces and lots of hits to the link is what gets their attention.
    In any case the meat of the reasoning in the opinion is right here.

  15. Daniel Barger:

    While bureaucrats of all types for all ages seek to expand power in the case of 'net neutrality' we are seeing the FCC being pushed....and responding as predicted along party implement a typical collectivist plan of total control over what was once unfettered. First of all
    because that is simply what bureaucrats do but also because OBAMA LOST CONGRESS in 2014 in large part due to freedom of people to
    communicate over the internet.....the media whores no longer have the sway they once had. Thus we see the opportunity presented to
    the White House by stupid and gullible people being used AS PREDICTED to implement an agenda that is ANYTHING BUT neutral.
    Jobs, money, bandwidth etc. etc. are all just excuses. The true goal was and is censorship.

  16. JW:

    Let's call it for what it really is: Net Masochism.

    I'm going to point and laugh at all of the idiots who championed this, when the very foreseeable shit starts to hit all of the fans. Then, I'm going to go home and cry, since I'm just as screwed as they are.

  17. JW:

    NN was about one thing and one thing only: control. Control of the one thing that had eluded their Top Men for over 20 years. They knew the millennial know-nothing twerps would eat it up if they sold it correctly.

    Step 1 "How hard can we make it look like we're fucking Comcast, while actually entrenching them even more?"
    Step 2: ????
    Step 3: CONTROL

  18. JW:

    "Cognitive dissonance exists *only* in the minds of smart people."

    Stupid(er) people know better.

  19. jhertzli:

    A list of cartoons from supposedly-ignorant cartoonists has been going around the sinistrosphere. It might be worth holding onto them and see which ones turn out to be accurate.

  20. J Calvert:

    ATT and VZW have been playing in the FCC sandbox for decades. They'll eat the content providers for lunch. Do you like dealing with your local phone company and tariff pricing? Then you'll love net neutrality.

  21. Perry de Havilland:

    I was about to disagree but... sadly I cannot :-(