Net Neutrality’s Crony Cacophony Is Out of Tune with Free Enterprise

by Mike Wendy on November 15, 2017

Here are the perils of crony-driven policy as exemplified by Senator Al Franken.

In the run-up to the Obama-Wheeler-Sohn Net Neutrality rule in the Summer of 2014, Senator Franken led the chorus, singing the praises of Google (and, by extension, Silicon Valley) and “simple” Net Neutrality – a policy designed by progressives to help, er, bring about the next Google by beating back “evil,” “gatekeeping” ISPs.

Leader of the Net Neutrality Chorus, Senator Al Franken.

Those of us against the FCC’s shenanigans have always known that the past two Commission’s “ISPs-are-the-real-gatekeepers” spin was intentionally off key: Google and the other dominant platforms write the sheet music, which the industry must play in order to exist in the Internet orchestra. Franken and his congressional chorus knew that, too, but were willing to turn a deaf ear to that as Net Neutrality was being composed because of Silicon Valley’s “support” of his Party.

By this Fall 2017, however, the Senator has started singing a different tune.

Last week, Franken got his new fake book from the Party, with the gospel hymns for Google and “simple” Net Neutrality all torn out of the songbook.

Notes Franken in the Guardian:

“As tech giants become a new kind of internet gatekeeper, I believe the same basic principles of net neutrality should apply here: no one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t. And Facebook, Google, and Amazon – like ISPs – should be ‘neutral’ in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platforms.

“Following years of hard work and dedication, we found in the Open Internet Order a strong and time-tested framework to protect net neutrality. While we fight to preserve the Order, we must now begin a thorough examination of big tech’s practices in order to secure the free flow of information on the internet.”

Sure, there’s an argument to be made that when dominant companies swing their market power around like a hammer, hurting consumers, it should be dealt with. But, we’ve never needed Net Neutrality to address that; antitrust law works fine (for the entire ecosystem, ISPs included). Of course, that’s not immediately helpful to progressives and their revised, anti-corporate agenda, all of which has been fashioned primarily to compete for votes in the ’18 midterm elections, and ’20 presidential vote.

Al Franken’s fealty to the beat of party politics reveals that the underlying policy has never been more than a crude tactic to remain in power and control people. Sadly, though, it is a willfully tone-deaf corruption, one which undermines free enterprise and its necessary checks on government, as well as (and perhaps most importantly) individual liberty, too.

Crony cacophony serves no one but its crooked conductor and those who direct his arbitrary baton. It is a refrain that must stop, or America’s Internet economy is doomed.

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