Beware the solution in search of a problem
So did you hear about the guy that couldn't get to his NetFlix because he was a BrightHouse user? How about the one where the average suburban housewife suing AT&T for not being clear about her DSL speed being advertised in megabits and not megabytes? No? Neither has anyone else, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is going to protect you from the possibility that such a thing could happen. This seems odd when both the Obama Justice Department and the European Union Commission (hardly a laissez-faire organization) decided that additional net neutrailty regulation wasn't necessary.
While the rules themselves are fairly innocuous (and ambiguous), the real danger is allowing the FCC police the Internet in any form. This is the organization whose previously rules deterred the free exchange of ideas and helped keep entrenched monopolies in power. The horribly misnamed "fairness doctrine" gave the big three media companies defacto control over news on radio and TV for decades. Thankfully the fairness doctrine was discarded but liberals still fantasize that the FCC will again wield its power and shut down any commentary that isn't left of center. Conservatives and libertarians can be excused for being paranoid.
There are serious legal questions about the FCC's legal authority to regulate private networks. One has to wonder if the reason the rules that were issued were so innocuous and provided so much leeway was to prevent a court challenge. If the FCC's authority goes unchallenged the regulation of the Internet becomes a fait accompli.
The most telling aspect of the regulatory incursion into private business is that some of the rules are redundant. Clarifying a providers Internet speed claims or download limits should fall to the FTC. The fact that the FCC has decided to issue rules that are already covered by existing law and another agency shows just how desperate the agency is to extend its claim to all things Internet.
The stated purpose of the rules is to give everyone access to services in a "neutral fashion". Perversely the rules actually encourage the opposite. By giving providers and out, the FCC is almost guaranteeing that large providers will start building a separate parallel network that will allow limited access to only select services. Internet businesses are worried, especially startups. Government regulators always move slowly and in the hyper fast and hyper competitive Internet business world, business models have to change fast to keep pace with technology. Once you plug a government rules making process into the equation, expect innovation to slow down, and the entrenched business interests to gain more power.
Beware the solution in search of a problem.