Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) voted to strip Internet Service Providers (ISP) of their Title II status:
The Federal Communications Commission voted today to deregulate the broadband industry and eliminate net neutrality rules that prohibit Internet service providers from blocking and throttling Internet traffic.
Going forward, home Internet providers and mobile carriers will be bound not by strict net neutrality rules but by whatever promises they choose to make. ISPs will be allowed to block or throttle Internet traffic or offer priority to websites and online services in exchange for payment.
Based on the hysteria that followed the vote, I’m surprised that the Internet didn’t turn off immediately. Apparently Title II status was the only thing keeping the Internet going and without it the Internet is certain to die.
If you’re one of the people who is panicking over this, remember two things. First, Title II status was only granted to ISPs under the last administration, which means that the Internet thrived for a long time without it. The absence of Title II status isn’t going to kill the Internet. Second, the removal of Title II status from ISPs is temporary. As soon as the current administration is replaced with a new one the possibility of Title II status being restored will increase. As I’ve been saying throughout this debate the real problem is precisely the fact that the FCC has the power to grant to remove Title II status. Until that power is taken away from the FCC the battle for net neutrality will continue perpetually.
I also want to take a moment to dispel some myths that libertarians have allowed themselves to believe because this blog is in part about libertarianism. Many libertarians have been celebrating the FCC’s decision because they mistakenly believe that this is the removal of government regulation on the Internet. Removal of government regulation would be stripping the FCC of its power to arbitrarily decide whether or not ISPs have Title II status. The FCC voting one way or another is not an exercise in removing government regulation.
Another myth that libertarians have allowed themselves to believe is that this vote restores a free market, at least in part, to the Internet. After all, if your ISP starts throttling or blocking traffic you can just take your money elsewhere, right? Wrong. One of the reasons so many people are freaking out about the end of net neutrality is because a handful of ISPs hold monopolies or near monopolies in most areas. This lack of competition comes to us thanks to government regulations on the local, state, and federal levels. However, it must be acknowledged because few people can vote with their money if their ISP starts doing something they don’t like. There’s a reason Comcast is simultaneously one of the most hated companies in the United States and a thriving business.
TL;DR: Follow the wonderful words printed on every copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: don’t panic. At the same time, don’t celebrate either.