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Argument: Net Neutrality means greater regulation of the Internet

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"Net Neutrality Will Increase Government Monitoring of Internet Traffic." Hands Off the Internet on Opposing Views: "Net neutrality calls for the Federal government to enforce standards on how online data is transmitted. But to accomplish this, there would have to be a significant increase in federal monitoring of online traffic at all levels to ensure compliance, including both the public Internet and dedicated private networks. Moreover, once inevitable disputes arose, federal courts would become involved, which would likely lead to even higher levels of monitoring."

Robert McDowell. "Hands off the Internet." Washington Post. April 9, 2010: "Curiously, the commission proposed rules even though studies by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence of market failure. And when the Justice and Commerce departments filed comments with the FCC in January, neither provided evidence of concentrations and abuses of market power in the broadband arena. To the contrary, the Justice Department sounded optimistic about the competitiveness of the broadband market. It even warned against imposing new regulations "to avoid stifling the infrastructure investments needed to expand broadband access.

Nonetheless, the FCC may still consider imposing early-20th-century vintage "common carrier" regulations on 21st-century broadband technologies. One result of the new rules could be to make it harder for the operators of broadband "pipes" to build "smart" networks, which offer connectivity and other services or products.

As the distinction between network operators and application developers blurs, how will government keep up? Internet application developers own massive server farms and fiber-optic connectivity. Meanwhile, broadband companies develop and maintain software with millions of lines of code and have created app stores that are seamlessly connected to their networks. As technology advances, in the absence of market failure, should the government attempt to make distinctions between applications and networks under a new regulatory regime? Would it be able to do so in Internet time? Would any of this be good for innovation, investment and America's global competitiveness?

And how will FCC actions be perceived internationally? Countries that regulate the Internet more tend to be less free than those that are hands-off. Not only are some countries waiting for Washington to assert more authority over the Internet to justify their own state interference with the Web, but once government regulation of the Internet starts, it will become harder to pull back.

We should also ask whether we want business decisions affecting the Internet to be caught up in election cycles. It is inevitable that more government involvement will mean enforcement decisions are politically influenced."

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