Left and Right Despise FCC's Net Neutrality Rules

Net neutrality opponents and supporters finally agree on something: they can't stand the federal government's new regulations

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In a contentious vote, the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules on Internet service providers (ISPs) Tuesday. The regulations will prohibit broadband providers from interfering with Web traffic and discourage them from giving some Web destinations preferential treatment over others. Noticeably, wireless Internet providers such as Verizon and AT&T will not be required to adhere to those rules. The 3-2 vote passed along party lines, with the two Democrats voting with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and two Republican commissioners dissenting. In the blogosphere, the new rules are infuriating both net neutrality supporters and opponents--but for very different reasons.

  • The FCC Caved to the Big Telco Companies, says Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press, a prominent pro-net neutrality group:
We are deeply disappointed that the chairman chose to ignore the overwhelming public support for real Net Neutrality, instead moving forward with industry-written rules that will for the first time in Internet history allow discrimination online. This proceeding was a squandered opportunity to enact clear, meaningful rules to safeguard the Internet's level playing field and protect consumers.
  • Caved? This Is a Major Win for the Radical Left, writes net neutrality opponent John Fund at The Wall Street Journal. He says the rules aim to prevent  "the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic." Despite opposition from Congress and a federal appeals court ruling, the FCC is going ahead anyway. Fund goes on to describe the socialist leanings of key net neutrality activists such as Robert McChesney. As recently as 2009, McChesney said "the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."
  • The FCC Chairman Himself Doesn't Even Like It, writes Nate Anderson at Ars Technica:

This is probably not the way Genachowski saw himself passing his pivotal net neutrality provisions. A year ago, when he made his pitch for the idea, he made clear that the rules should apply to wired and wireless networks, for instance, and he no doubt imagined a positive reception from at least some side of the debate...

The Commission is imposing neutrality on the past (the old world of wired, cable connections) while leaving the wireless future open for all kinds of anti-competitive behaviour by corporations.

  • Both Sides of This Debate Are Being Pretty Unreasonable  "Many of the most vocal advocates of Net neutrality on the left blasted the FCC's order as weak and riddled with loopholes, while opponents on the right say it puts Washington into a market that has until now been governed by consensus among the participants," writes the Los Angeles Times editorial board. "Neither of those complaints passes the reasonableness test." Here's why:
Neutrality rules will fail if they prevent network operators from innovating, or if they're premised on the dangerous assumption that broadband connections just naturally keep up with the growing demand for capacity. At the same time, if the FCC reversed its stance and declared that there was no need for open Internet rules to guide networks, online businesses and investors, it would invite broadband providers to interfere with traffic in ways that they haven't yet dared to.
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