Obama calls for more regulation of the internet. What could go wrong?
I am a big believer in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." President Obama has other ideas when it comes to the internet.
President Obama threw down the gauntlet Monday with cable companies and Internet providers by declaring they shouldn’t be allowed to cut deals with online services like YouTube to move their content faster.
It was his most definitive statement to date on so-called “net neutrality,” and escalates a battle that has been simmering for years between industry groups and Internet activists who warn against the creation of Internet “fast lanes.” The president’s statement swiftly drew an aggressive response from trade groups, which are fighting against additional regulation, as well as congressional Republicans.
"We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme" regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.
Obama, in his statement, called for an “explicit ban” on “paid prioritization,” or better, faster service for companies that pay extra. The president said federal regulators should reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
"For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business," Obama said in his statement. "That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information -- whether a phone call, or a packet of data."
Some of the complaints of net neutrality advocates are paranoid - that companies will deliberately slow down or even block access to political sites they disagree with in order to service clients who pay extra. The problem with that is if it became a reality, the government would step in anyway. Internet service providers will have net neutrality hanging over their heads for the foreseeable future. It's hard to see how they could get away with something like that.
Sites like YouTube and Netflix are already slowing down the net for the rest of us. They are getting fat and rich off of billions of dollars of technology they didn't build or pay for. Time for these bandwidth hogs to pony up and pay a a little more so the rest of us can continue to enjoy the benefits of a fast internet.