Failing to Understand the Real Net Neutrality Problem

The Internet is up in arms over discussions of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) endorsing tiered Internet access. Solutions are being offered by many but most of those solutions involve some variation of “We need the government to regulate itself in a way that’s favorable to the people instead of its corporate partners!” Such solutions are pointless. There is an article by Davis Morris making its way around the Internet that offers a slightly different solution:

With the announcement by the FCC that cable and telephone companies will be allowed to prioritize access to their customers only one option remains that can guarantee an open internet: owning the means of distribution.

This is what I’m talking about. It’s time that we the people stood up to the FCC and Internet Service Providers (ISP) by seizing their monopoly on distribution. Viva la revoluciĆ³n!

Thankfully an agency exists for this. Local government. Owning the means of distribution is a traditional function of local government.

Oh, my bad. I thought Mr. Morris was going to propose an actual solution not simply another variation of “We need the government to regulate itself!” The root of the net neutrality problem is the institution of government itself. So long as any central organization maintains ownership of the Internet infrastructure the threat of censorship, tiering, and other undesirable restrictions will loom over our heads. What happens if local government take ownership of the infrastructure? The large content providers, such as Comcast (Comcast plays both sides against the middle by being an ISP and a content provider), will simply buy the local governments just as it has bought the federal government.

Mr. Morris’ basic idea, that we need to own the means of distribution, is correct. But his method is wrong. To defeat net neutrality we must put the means of distribution in the peoples’ hands (I never thought I’d see the day that I started sounding like Karl Fucking Marx). I briefly describe the work I’m participating in to bring mesh networking to the Twin Cities. The nice part about mesh networks is that individuals can own the infrastructure. Each person can purchase and maintain as many mesh nodes as they desire and establish a system of federation with other node owners. In other words we need infrastructure anarchy.

Through this method we the people become the literal owners of the means of distribution. The biggest advantage of this is that buying off many people willing to operate mesh nodes is difficult since they are oftentimes motivated by the desire to maintain a free and open Internet. It’s people with such motivations that we want owning and maintaining the means of distribution.