NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 26, 2006

Having the federal government regulate the speed at which data is carried over public and private Internet networks would make Internet providers legally liable if some data crossed its networks faster than other data. The online phrase for this is "net neutrality" and it's meant to prohibit non-existent "discrimination" on the Internet.

As is usual in lobbying campaigns, proponents of neutrality regulations are spreading myths about the need for government action, says Chuck Muth, president of Citizen Outreach.

  • Myth: Internet providers are blocking consumers' access to their preferred websites.
  • Fact: Those pushing federal neutrality regulations can cite only two examples where an Internet provider blocked consumer access to a legal website. Both happened in Canada!
  • Myth: Well, then providers have said they'll start discriminating.
  • Fact: Providers have said they will not discriminate because they understand that one of the quickest ways to drive away customers is to take away their legal rights to do what they want online. Moreover, most major U.S. providers of Internet access have signed on to FCC principles that specifically bar discrimination.
  • Myth: Net neutrality regulations won't cost consumers anything.
  • Fact: Companies are spending tens of billions of dollars to deploy next-generation networks. Federal "neutrality" regulations would undercut virtually all types of commercial arrangements between Internet access providers and online companies. With this major source of revenue dried up, providers would have only one place to turn -- consumers.

In sum, neutrality regulations would be a breathtaking expansion of federal government power over the Internet -- and for no good reason.  Legislating out of fear will not achieve the next generation of Internet service, and is likely to have serious unintended consequences, explains Muth.

Source: Chuck Muth, "Debunking the Myths of Net 'Neutrality' " Human Events Online, June 22, 2006.

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