Here are a few things to help keep the whole net neutrality thing in perspective. With all the various potentially damaging things the current administration is doing it’s easy to assume this is one more brick in the wall. But it’s not all black and white and there are a few things you might want to consider.
- Net neutrality didn’t legally go into effect until 2015. The Internet was fine for the first 20 years or so. That of course doesn’t mean it was going to stay fine, and major carriers were caught doing dubious things which helped make the case for some regulation. But overall things pretty much worked.
- The big video sites are kinda getting a free ride over the carrier’s pipes. They are by far the dominant piece of Internet traffic and we’re essentially subsidizing Netflix and YouTube. I’m all for socializing the cost of something like schools, roads, police, fire, and the many other services which help create a modern society. But it’s harder to see why we all need to pay for someone binge-watching GOT. Put another way, the big guys get a free ride while the small sites pay, so it’s not as clear cut that repeal hurts the small guys and/or innovation.
- We have some, albeit limited, choices in our carriers. Usually you can choose either the phone company or the cable company, possibly satellite or the more dubious fixed wireless. One can hope that if one provider actually tried something like billing for Twitter the other alternative(s) would not collude. So you could just switch.
- The Internet is changing. More and more folks are watching their TV via the Internet and the “dumb pipes” and affiliated infrastructure are needing to carry vastly increased amounts of data. As such the Internet is becoming a much different beast than it was for the first 20 years. The companies providing the infrastructure for all that have a right to try to reasonably adapt their business.
- Net neutrality had a big loophole anyhow that allowed carriers to do “reasonable testing” on their networks. That word “reasonable” is very open to interpretation.
- It’s in the self-interest of the big carriers to not be too evil or regulation will rear its head again and/or customers will switch. Granted, they still might choose to be evil, but if they do, it will make it a slam-dunk to bring back regulation.
So before you assume the worst, look at both sides of the situation. This one might not be as simple and knee-jerk as we’ve been assuming.