I have bad news everybody. In the battle for net neutrality no matter who wins we all lose. I’ve discussed the issue of net neutrality as it pertains to libertarianism before. The main problem is that no actual competition exists in the market of providing Internet access. This near monopoly situation is the product of the state, which used its regulatory powers to protect its favored Internet Service Providers (ISP) from competition. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the state has set itself up to win no matter what.
Members of the Democratic Party have primarily been advocating to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory power over ISPs to “protect” net neutrality. Meanwhile the Republican Party has been busy discussing the need to take power away from the FCC to protect the “free” market:
US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wants to make sure the Federal Communications Commission never interferes with “states’ rights” to protect private Internet service providers from having to compete against municipal broadband networks.
Twenty states have passed laws making it difficult for cities and towns to offer their own broadband Internet services, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has pledged to use his agency’s authority to “preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband.”
Since ISPs have a state granted near monopoly no free market exists so Mrs. Blackburn’s claim that she is working to protect it is absurd. But this story does demonstrate on concerning fact: in the chess game of net neutrality we are one move away from being checkmated.
Tom Wheeler, the currently appointed chairman of the FCC, was a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries before being given his current position. He has already shown his hand by ruling that ISPs can provide fast and slow lanes for Internet traffic. So we know if the FCC gains the power to regulate ISPs it will kill net neutrality.
On the other hand if the FCC isn’t given more power to regulate ISPs the individual states, 22 of which have already moved to protect the handful of ISPs’ near monopoly, will allow their corporate partners like Comcast to destroy net neutrality by destroying their competition.
No matter who wins we lose. There is one last glimmer of hope but it’s not going to be easy. We need to work on cutting out the ISP middleman. I’ve briefly discussed the work I’ve been involved in to get mesh networks running in the Twin Cities. Building mesh networks is probably the only move that will save use from being checkmated. Because the state has set the board up in such a way that we’ll lose regardless of what powers the FCC has.