Net neutrality is back in the limelight again thanks to one idiotic senator and one idiotic president. First there is Ted Cruz, who seems entirely unaware of how the Internet currently works:
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014
Cruz spokeswoman Amanda Carpenter echoed the senator in her own tweet, writing, “Net neutrality puts gov’t in charge of determining pricing, terms of service, and what products can be delivered. Sound like Obamacare much?”
The Internet in this country already moves at the speed of government thanks to the regulatory atmosphere that gives a handful of Internet Service Providers (ISP) a practical monopoly on providing Internet access. And Cruz’s spokeswoman isn’t much smarter since net neutrality doesn’t put the government in charge of pricing, terms of service, or what products can be offered. It’s just a fancy term for the status quo, which is all traffic being treated with equal priority. What would give the government control over such matters is if we went with what the government considers net neutrality, which is an even more heavily regulated market than the one that already exists.
But the Republicans weren’t the only ones to field an idiot to speak about the Internet this week. The Democrats fielded none other than Obama:
President Obama today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify broadband service as a utility and to impose rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking and throttling traffic or prioritizing Web services in exchange for payment. Obama also said utility rules should apply both to home Internet service and mobile broadband.
Treat the Internet like a utility? That’s just urging ISPs to charge customers by the byte instead of charging by access speed. Furthermore it would give local governments more power to further monopolize Internet access. Many municipalities already grant one or two companies control over utilities such as water and electricity. Case in point, the government of Minneapolis has granted monopoly electricity contracts to Xcel Energy and monopoly natural gas contracts to Centerpoint Energy. Imagine if the Internet becomes a utility. Then municipal governments such as Minneapolis could grant monopoly contracts to the likes of Comcast. Not only would you potentially be paying by the byte but you probably wouldn’t even have the almost nonexistent choice between ISPs that you have today.
So long as rely on the state to solve this problem we’re going to get fucked hard. The only long-term solution is to decentralize Internet access provision. That’s why I’ve been working on mesh networking initiatives. Mesh networks provide a decentralized network that would be very difficult for the state to regulate if designed correctly. I’m sure other options exist for decoupling the Internet from the state and I would love to hear about them.