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March 03, 2015


Perry McDowell

Jim -

Great post. It completely sums up my feelings about the issue. While I'm normally against government regulations, I am pro-net neutrality. Yet, I still worry that the camel's nose is now in the tent, and today's promises to regulate with a light hand will be forgotten in the coming years. I heard one caller on NPR ask if this will lead to regulation that would prevent his teenager from accessing objectionable material.

One point I would add, and two of yours that I would expand upon:

1) The providers brought this upon themselves, since it was their suit that overturned the FCC's previous regulations for net neutrality. The court ruled that, since internet service wasn't defined as a Title II service, the FCC didn't have the authority to regulate it. Thus, the FCC was left with three choices: a) hope Congress would do something (ha, ha); b) do nothing, and allow net neutrality to die; or c) redefine internet service as a Title II service, which would allow them to regulate it. a) was never going to happen, but I can't help but think that it was the four million comments the FCC received that moved them from b) to c).

2) I'm very worried about what this, and many other issues, means for the future of our political system. You hit the nail on the head that this is a complex issue and there was no complex debate regarding it. Average people used to travel long distances to stand and listen to politicians like Lincoln or Douglas speak for hours on the issues of the day. Today, a sound bite longer than 20 seconds gets lost. "TL;DR" might be the bane of our society. It would be interesting to see what percentage of people spent more time contemplating this issue than they did Kim Kardashian's butt, even though this is more likely to "break the internet." I can't tell if things just appear better in the past since I wasn't there to experience them, or there has been a real shift.

3) Finally, I think that your last sentence was one of the reasons that they're were even the four million people galvanized enough to comment to the FCC. On that same NPR program, there was an industry shill who made the comment about how great the current system was working because of all the improvements companies have made to the internet since the 1990's making it much faster. I was hoping that someone would call him on it by asking him, "If that's the case, why does the US consistently rank in the bottom percentile among developed countries for internet speed, but in the top percentile for consumer cost?", but no one did. I think that the other reason people responded is the customer service that these companies provide - I think that people are willing to accept what is effectively a monopoly if they are not routinely reminded that they have no other options. Having, or hearing about, customer service experiences which would make the customer change companies but they can't is a constant irritant that creates an inherent bias against the company.

Thanks for such insight.

Jim Stogdill


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. The irony of how we came to this (your first point) would be funny if it wasn't ridiculous. And I agree with you, I think without those 4 million comments we would be hearing a very different result and Congress would not have (so far) stayed out of it.

Wrt comment #2, I'm not as concerned. I think there has always been plenty of demagoguery. I'm more concerned that Congress these days is so quick to contribute to the dumb rather than try to engage in substantive debate themselves.

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