The Internet doesn’t need new rules

Original Article

New government regulation is not necessary to “keep the Internet fair and open,” as the Times editorialized.

Broadband providers already have an economic incentive to provide fast, reliable access to the most appealing content, applications and services the Internet has to offer. Previous attempts to create “walled gardens” online have failed not because a regulator objected but because consumers weren’t interested.

Regulation is rarely “smart,” practical or without unintended consequences.

Nor is a requirement to deliver all data equally necessarily a good thing. For example, spam does not get the same priority as legitimate e-mail. Most spam, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of e-mail traffic, is blocked completely. Some services arguably should be prioritized above everything else, such as remote monitoring of patient vital signs.

If broadband vendors do try to discriminate against unaffiliated content, application and service providers for selfish purposes, they will likely face an antitrust probe.

Finally, it makes no sense to require wireless providers to treat data traffic equally. They are struggling to squeeze an exponentially rising tide of data traffic from smartphones through limited airwaves. Regulation will not solve the problem of not enough spectrum.

There is no question all Internet users should continue to be able to access any legal content they want just like they can now, but more regulation is not the answer. The solution is to build a bigger network. Fortunately, broadband providers invested approximately $60 billion in more network capacity last year alone without being told to do so.

Hance Haney, senior fellow, Discovery Institute, Alexandria, Va.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.