Today, the FCC began its final steps toward regulating the Internet. Of course, this does not need to occur. Over the past 5 years, network investment and its resulting innovation has exploded; technology has advanced well beyond the dreams of policymakers; and the majority of Americans have connected to an Internet that they enjoy and demand ever-more of, delivered where and when they want it, 24/7/365 days a year.
Private companies did this. And it happened because of something the FCC did not do - regulate.
By this fall, however, rules will be imposed on the very companies that deliver the Internet to our homes, businesses and handsets. The FCC says rules are needed because...well, we're not quite sure. Perhaps it's political, built on a promise during the '08 elections. Perhaps it's the special interests - such as the Free Press - that have hijacked the process with wild, anti-corporate conjecture. Perhaps, it satisfies the well-healed content and applications lobbies who want a free ride.
What we do know, however, is that Americans like their Internet. It makes them better, safer, more connected, creating jobs, opportunities, and spreading democratic voice as never before.
Going forward, the math is pretty simple. This fall, after all the hoopla has receded, the FCC will have its rules for its Internet takeover. It will start slowly, with the imposition of 19th century-like regulations designed to keep the already open Internet, open. Because agencies like the FCC cannot just do nothing - as we see in this very exercise - the regulations will lead to price, access and service controls on network providers. When this occurs, the very companies that deliver service to Americans will rightly hold back new investment, growth and innovation. This will chill innovation at the edges. And the whole of the connected web will feel the pinch.
I guess for the FCC and Free Press, less is more. But their math is wrong.
We already have an Internet regulated by the evolution of transmission technologies, consumer education and empowerment tools, industry best practices and marketplace guidance. Consumers win today through de facto Net Neutrality regulations and market dynamics that flexibly work to spread Internet technologies to most all Americans who want it. With each passing day, this promise only grows, unabated.
The FCC and the special interests don't like this. Free enterprise - really, the American way - means they cannot act as gatekeepers and control it, parsing out favors to the politically connected. They appear intent on burning the village to the ground in order to save it.
How sad. How un-American.
Takeovers do not suit America's Internet. The FCC's rules should be rejected.