Op-Ed: Why, Even as an Internet Activist, I Support The Repeal of Net Neutrality

Some of the worlds most passionate supporters of “an Open Internet” reject any regulatory stance, law or policy governing the free flow of information across the internet, regardless of whatever that law may be or whom passes it. However, it is also a general fact that individual Governments and politicians all over the world continue to work on/pass new laws regulating and governing “the internet” each and every day.

Of these, one of the more “controversial” and most widely talked about would be the concept of “Net Neutrality.” Oddly enough, one of the only laws regulating “internet access” that purists, idealists and internet activists all seem to support. To this effect, next week Washington D.C. will play host to a large rally in support of Net Neutrality, in protest of Donald Trumps decision to repeal Net Neutrality laws first passed by President Obama in 2015.

It has already become fairly politicized by now, but in March 2017 Donald Trump lived up to one of his campaign promises and officially repealed Net Neutrality Laws for the first time. Ever since then, in the days, weeks and months to follow, everyone from reporting agencies, to Democrats, to tech experts, to some of the worlds largest corporation’s have all spoke out against Trump for this, believing that Net Neutrality laws ultimately helped society – by essentially limiting the amount of money that internet service providers could charge for internet access in the future. In this way people were quick to say that Trump was just trying to make the rich richer, by theoretically allowing companies to charge more in the future.

I think it is safe to say that no one in society is exactly crying for the profits of cable and internet conglomerates these days. This is also why so many people were frustrated over Trumps decision to begin with, fearing that he was only looking out for the interests of his fellow “1%’ers.

However, at least when it comes specifically to Trumps decision to ban net neutrality, I believe these fears to be largely unjustified. Most people seem to be completely overlooking some of the more positive aspects of his decision. For example, how much it opens up the internet market. As you may or may not have learned from Economics 101, in an “open market economy,” the more competition that exists in any marketplace, the more it decreases the cost of goods in that marketplace for the end consumers; the citizens.

To give you a sense of where I am coming from on this issue, lets take a look back at what upholding strong Net Neutrality regulations has “accomplished” in the past. As you might remember, in 2015 Facebook launched a self-funded project in India, in hopes of providing internet access to some of the poorest areas of the country, many of which had never experienced or had reliable internet access before. Sounds pretty cool, right? That is until you learn that Facebook was also doing this entirely for free. I know, what monsters – right?

Citing Net Neutrality laws and regulations, the government of India proceeded to ban Facebook’s free internet service from the country, believing that by offering free internet service and access, Facebook would have essentially established itself as its own “monopoly.” Think about it, who would pay $50 a month for internet access through a company like Comcast when you could pay $0 for it through someone else? Essentially, Facebook‘s free internet threatened to steal tens of millions to billions of dollars away from internet service providers already in the country and the taxes those companies would pay, something that the Government of India simply could not allow.

But India is also not alone, some of the worlds largest cities and countries have all gone on to pass similar measures of their own, by either banning free internet services outrightor preventing companies from charging cents on the dollar for internet access. All in the name of Net Neutrality.

So, while it is true that net neutrality laws may have prevented “legacy” companies from charging more at the top of the market, at the same time, it has also prevented new companies from emerging and competing at the bottom end of that market. I also contend that Net Neutrality laws were in themselves a protection for monopolies or established corporations, such as Comcast. In my estimation, Net Neutrality laws only protected the largest of corporations by making it much harder for new corporations to form or compete for business in the industry.

For anyone interested, I have a similar view regarding the American Health Care Marketplace as it presently exists:

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Categories: Politics

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