Slippery Net Neutrality

by Mike Wendy on September 20, 2014

The concept known as Net Neutrality is essentially a creature of the Left – a vessel into which it has poured all of its societal or other angst, framing a “problem” – which purposely has no defined edges – and then creating a “solution” to “fix” it.  If one has to generalize, Net Neutrality means the “non-discrimination” of content, applications, services or devices as they run over / attach to various points of the Internet.  In application (at this point in time), Net Neutrality “makes sure” that all the stuff flowing over the Internet from edge providers to end users gets treated equally and unmolested by the network providers.  When this occurs, the world is a better place.  So, we must have Net Neutrality, for without it, no one will ever be able to live freely again.  Ever.

It’s settled science.

Anyway, with the FCC Net Neutrality rule comment period over, the Commission’s work is cut out for it as it fashions its new (and needless) regulation in response to the DC Circuit’s ruling of last January. Now the real horse trading begins, meaning that after over a decade of “knowing” what Net Neutrality is, it seems that the slippery concept is, well, still pretty darned slippery, gelatinous and lugubrious.  And subject to negotiation.

Cut and dried it was never meant to be.  That would be easy.  Binary.  On, off.  But of course, how can one extort rent from that?

Pictured below are some of the characters in this debate and their versions of Net Neutrality.  Each of these versions, or combinations thereof, are still in-play as the FCC goes about figuring out how to “protect the Internet” from the “evil” ISPs through Net Neutrality.


This Philadelphia activist wants Net Neutrality to make the local cable provider pay more in taxes for schools, etc.


This Minnesota Senator wants “simple” Net Neutrality.


This lawyer wants Net Neutrality to strip away the First Amendment rights of  ISPs.


This Free Press lobbyist (left) and edge company lobbyist (right) want Net Neutrality rules which mean their clients never have to pay a single dollar to ship their offerings over the Internet to end users.


This woman wants Net Neutrality to screw her cable company.


 This Netflix lobbyist wants free “interconnection” as part of Net Neutrality.


 This activist wants Net Neutrality to bring about social justice.


This Washington reporter (middle) wants to use Net Neutrality to rub elbows with powerful edge company lobbyists, and also write exciting stories about “good” vs. “evil” companies.


 This activist wants Net Neutrality to make the Internet free.


 These guys want Net Neutrality so they can do what they want on the Internet anonymously, while wearing cool masks.


 This Etsy lobbyist wants Net Neutrality to make all web pages load at exactly the same speed and quality under all circumstances.


 This Net Neutrality activist just wants to cook something at the Net Neutrality rally.


This lawyer wants “user-controlled quality of service” agreements to give the appearance that Net Neutrality via Title II is legal.


This lawyer wants to win his next run for political office, and in the meantime coin new phrases like Net  Neutrality, which create more jobs for lawyers, lobbyists and edge company freeloaders.


 This Free Press advocate (middle, speaking), wants Net Neutrality to result in “media reform.”


This activist wants corporations off of the Internet, while sipping $4 cups of Starbucks coffee.


 These activists want to use Net Neutrality rallies to look ironic.


 This former edge company lobbyist, now FCC official, (likely still ) wants the FCC to adopt most of Title II to give “teeth” to Net Neutrality.


 This Free Press lobbyist wants the “light touch” rules of Title II applied to Net Neutrality to “promote” robust infrastructure development.


 This Jumbotron wants to lobby the FCC on Net Neutrality with pirated HBO videos.


 This rally organizer wants Net Neutrality to protect her free speech, especially when she’s playing “angel.”


 ‘Nuff said.


 These activists want Net Neutrality to “save the Internet.”


The FCC’s Chairman just wants to get out of this Net Neutrality mess he’s created for himself without the Left putting his head on pike.


All of this, and so much more (like 3 million “comments” more), is being poured into the new Net Neutrality rule – one that will look more like a Jackson Pollock painting, or Oscar Mayer sausage, than “settled science.”  This will not result in good or sound public policy, however.  It took a decade to get to this point.  The Internet changes every year-and-a-half.  No “artful” rule can meet this challenge, especially for something that ain’t broke.

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