When Will the Hate Stop? Unprecedented and personal attacks continue on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai as so-called “Net Neutrality” was ended with no discernable differences. First on the threats, as detailed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
On a visit to the Journal today, Mr. Pai wore a suit and tie and maintained his usual cheerful demeanor. But he also reported that the threats against him and his family did not end with the Commission’s December vote to restore the freedom that existed for the Internet’s entire history until 2015.
Today is the expiration date Mr. Pai and his colleagues placed on the 2015 Obama administration rule that applied century-old utility regulation to the Internet. By imposing rules once reserved for the Bell telephone monopoly, the Obama FCC managed to do what had never been done before outside of recessions: reduce the annual amount of money Internet service providers invest in their networks.
This obviously didn’t bode well for customers hoping for fast and reliable service in the future. But Silicon Valley companies like Netflix and Alphabet (owner of YouTube and Google) wanted government to prevent a network operator like AT&T from charging market rates for carrying their enormous video traffic around the Internet.
Chairman Pai has done an incredible job and remains focused on pointing out the reality of the Net Neutrality repeal.
Mr. Pai has heard all of the overheated claims that he is causing “the end of the Internet as we know it.” Now that today has arrived and there is no disaster, his critics will have to live with their unhinged commentary. “We’re going to remind people” of their absurd apocalyptic forecasts, he says.
Predictions that ISPs [Internet service providers] will (for example) suddenly start slowing down everyone’s access and blocking categories of content, however, don’t seem to reckon with the fact that the entire history of the consumer Internet up to 2015, when the neutrality standard was implemented, shows the opposite—increasing speeds, access, and availability of an explosively diverse universe of content. There’s no compelling argument that all of that will go away just because ISPs are no longer subject to Title II regulation.
What some net neutrality activists have tried to suggest—that ISPs will now be free to downgrade your service or charge you more in violation of current subscription and contract terms—is absolutely untrue. The FCC is still watching out for anti-competitive and deceptive behavior, and the Federal Trade Commission is now taking the lead with robust enforcement powers in this area. Brent Skorup and Chad Reese of the Mercatus Center argue it could do even more. See also today’s blog post from the R Street Institute’s Joe Kane on why the doomsday predictions didn’t (and won’t) come true. Getting rid of the old net neutrality regulations is about opening up the market for Internet service and content delivery in ways that will unleash a new generation of innovation and investment. We see that investment in broadband declined after the previous rules were implemented. It’s not surprising that companies would be less eager to invest billions of dollars into assets they expect to have less and less control over in the future. With greater freedom to price, discount, and negotiate on both sides (with content providers on the back end and consumer on the front end), companies will be better able to compete by offering new packages, bundles, and services. The Restoring Internet Freedom Order will move us toward better, cheaper and faster broadband for all Americans.
The Internet is free to grow and prosper as before. Unfortunately, the haters don’t care about reality and worse continue to threaten leaders like Chairman Pai who do.