If you were paying attention last Wednesday, you may have noticed a little “loading” symbol in the corner of websites like Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit. This symbol was in support of Internet Slowdown Day, a movement meant to stand against the FCC’s proposed “open internet” draft, a set of rules protestors see against their idea of net neutrality. Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise well-meaning people are being swept up in a movement that is pro-government, anti-business, and frightening for the future of the Internet.
The Basics of Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality is one of those buzzwords that is easy for millions of young people to get behind. The last thing anyone wants is an Internet fundamentally changed from what we have now. The concept calls on the government to make sure that all Internet traffic is treated equally. It sounds like just the thing that anyone who considers themselves a libertarian should support. Unfortunately, like the Citizen’s United case, this one has been obscured by ignorance and myth.
The fact is that there are significant differences when it comes to various forms of Internet traffic. Treating traffic of disparate sources according to their needs would actually benefit the end user tremendously. Why should an Internet behemoth like Netflix get the same treatment as your blog? It doesn’t make any sense. It causes slower speeds across the board, because you have ISPs devoting an inordinate amount of bandwidth to a single source.
Without net neutrality, ISPs would be able to broker deals with these high-usage websites to get faster speeds for their customers without affecting the rest of their customers. This is already happening now. The FCC’s proposed rules wouldn’t fundamentally transform the Internet; net neutrality would.As Netflix and YouTube begin streaming higher quality videos, the bandwidth usage will be astronomical. This is a problem that needs a solution.
Internet Slowdown Day
According to leftists and the ignorant, deals between ISPs and high-bandwidth websites are bad for everyone. They envision a future where Internet packages are sold like today’s cable packages. Pay this much for basic Internet, pay this much for basic + Netflix, pay this much for basic + Netflix + YouTube, and so on. ISPs could even go back to the data plans of the early Internet, charging customers for exactly the amount of bandwidth they use.
All of this is exceedingly unlikely to happen. In a free market society, ISPs aren’t going to chance pissing off their customer base with this kind of wild reorganization. The left’s idea of net neutrality is a way to freeze and stifle competition, giving ISPs virtually no incentive to bring innovation and greater speed to the marketplace. Without it, you have an open system where the best companies are forced to compete. It works in virtually every other sector, why is the Internet too good for it?
When you break it down, what the left wants for Internet access is what they want for everything else: strong, unyielding government regulations. Hell, many would prefer government ownership. And so the argument against it is simple. Look at Obamacare, look at our public schools, and look at the overbearing bureaucratic malfunction that persists in every federally-regulated industry. And then ask yourself if that’s what you want for your Internet. The answer should be clear.