McAdams On: Regulation Fail
is a solution without
a problem, a debate
of overly simplistic
fueled by propaganda planted by digital
behemoths like Google, Amazon, eBay
and Facebook. But reality hardly matters.
Somehow, Comcast charging Netflix for
heavy traffic has been equated to the end
of the Internet as we know it. There is
absolutely zero evidence of this.
In fact, writes economist Tom Hazlett,
“Networks routinely manage traffic and
often bundle content with data transport
precisely because such coordination
produces superior service.”
So the Internet as we know it already
has throttles If it didn’t, we’d all be knitting
scarves while downloading SD episodes
of “Fargo.” And now we’re expecting 4K
content to be delivered online. Enforcing
a hands-off policy on ISPs will surely
motivate them to support that.
Now I am fully aware that as one of
three citizens not on the payroll of an
ISP who does not vigorously support
network neutrality, I am setting myself
up for pitchfork and torchery by its
advocates. I’ve spoken up against it from
the beginning, having witnessed Google
literally start the whole mess. I also
understand that net neutrality may be a
fait accompli based on the steam-rolling
momentum of Google-shaped public
I think this is unfortunate in the sense
that rigorous analysis is being bypassed in
favor of an emotional response.
I’ve seen nothing, for example, on the
ramifications of regulating Internet service
provision under Title II. What would the tax
structure look like? Is this just a way for
Google, et al, to get taxpayers to foot the
bill for heavy traffic?
The other, perhaps far more relevant
element to ISP regulation is that it hardly
matters. The Internet itself is a frontier,
as evidenced by the multiple sites that
throttled the FCC itself after its circus of a
vote on a net neutrality item.
Whatever Comcast, the FCC, et al, try to
do to rein in the beast, someone is already
coding a hack.
There’s innovation for you.