The Free Press has some new advocacy, which, true to form, moves the Net Neutrality goalpost yet again. You see, no one really knows what Net Neutrality is, so, out of the kindness of their hearts, they’ve stepped in to fill that void…with an even lengthier definition.
Originally, the FCC’s Net Neutrality policy guidance covered just four principles:
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
Then last October, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed two more principles for network providers to follow – a “nondiscrimination” principle, and a network transparency principle.
And then that changed again.
In May, seeking to accommodate an unfavorable court ruling which put into doubt the FCC’s ability to ensure any Net Neutrality principles, Genachowski proposed his “Third Way,” a plan he said that would act as a “a legal anchor that gives the Commission only the modest authority it needs to foster a world-leading broadband infrastructure for all Americans…”
The “limited” plan would:
Recognize the transmission component of broadband access service and only this component as a telecommunications service;
Apply only a handful of provisions of Title II (Sections 201, 202, 208, 222, 254, and 255) that, prior to the Comcast decision, were widely believed to be within the Commissions purview for broadband;
Simultaneously renounce that is, forbear from application of the many sections of the Communications Act that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service; and
Put in place up-front forbearance and meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.
As late as this August, the Free Press said all of this was sensible and supportable. Keeping the Internet open in this manner wouldn’t harm anyone. Content providers could reach users without being shut out. Users could get the services they wanted. And network providers could still take risk, innovate and make plenty of money.
What’s all this talk about the slippery slope of regulation? The “Third Way” was all perfectly reasonable, the group griped.
Well, the other shoe dropped yesterday.
Over a year has passed since Julius Genachowski arrived at the FCC, and nothing along the Net Neutrality front has happened. This is not a bad thing, of course. Net Neutrality regulations aren’t warranted. But for the Professional Left they are. It was a campaign pledge of President Obama, so it’s destined to occur.
Tired of waiting, the Free Press unleashed a new campaign to put pressure on the FCC to “do the right thing.” In doing so, it basically says network providers have only limited rights to manage their networks. Thus, the new definition of Net Neutrality covers seven points, each more restrictive than the other:
There is only one Internet: Rules must apply to wireless and wired services.
ISPs must not block applications, content, services or devices.
Strong non-discrimination rules are key to preserving the open Internet.
Paid prioritization is harmful because it allows ISPs to pick winners and losers online.
“Reasonable Network Management” cannot be a loophole that undermines the open Internet.
“Managed services” cannot be allowed to stifle the growth of the open Internet.
Users, not ISPs, should determine which applications need Quality of Service treatment.
So, we move from four principles, to six, to seven…to infinity and beyond (to borrow a phrase from Toy Story). Boy, that goalpost keeps moving southward.
It kind of reminds me of the 14-point, Section 271 Bell long-distance checklist, which at one point was estimated to entail over 600 different regulatory requirements before any Bell was able to enter into the long-distance market.
America deserves more than this type of game. The goalpost is already set. We have a working market that satisfies consumers and promotes openness of the Internet. America does need, nor does it desire, the regulatory con game engaged by the radical Free Press.