Are The FCC Net Neutrality Laws Necessary?

Are The FCC Net Neutrality Laws Necessary?

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been hearing about the new net neutrality laws on the heels of Merry Christmas wishes. If you’re not too attached to your computer monitors, “net neutrality” might be more a case of pleasing alliteration than a legislative move.

But just a few minutes online shows that absolutely everyone has an opinion on the necessity and effects of these laws—this is, after all, the internet.

Wireless Carriers Benefit

The laws, put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), expressly forbid internet providers blocking competitive websites, discriminating unreasonably against services, and insist on transparency. The laws are much more stringent for internet providers than for wireless providers, arguing that wireless internet technology isn’t as advanced and needs the room to grow. Yet knowing how much time and effort it took to get these laws in place, it seems there is little chance of going through the process when mobile internet has progressed.

It’s Largely Theoretical

The rules for net neutrality (transparency, no blocking, no discrimination) seem perfectly logical, as they’re regulating practices that are unethical and undesirable. But think for a minute: When is the last time you were blocked from a website or service? It turns out that these laws were put in place in case of suspected later misbehavior among internet providers, who are increasingly seen as the “gatekeepers” of internet access. To make it quite clear, the net neutrality laws are largely preemptive.

Dissension Among The Ranks

Depending on whom you ask, they’re not all that neutral, either. The “wiggle room” afforded to wireless companies is a sore point for many, The ambiguity of the rules is also a target: What, exactly, constitutes unreasonable discrimination? As one member of Congress put it, “Without any hint of market failure, the reason for any regulation is non existent.” There is also debate about whether the FCC even has the appropriate power to regulate the internet.  There is disagreement about whether the laws are valid, are effective, are necessary. There is disagreement surrounding the whole thing.

As far as we can tell, the current situation is a logical path: Gatekeeper behavior needs appropriate regulation…but without such behavior in practice, what is being regulated?

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