With no sense of irony to speak of, some of the biggest and most profitable companies on the Internet have succeeded in masking their pursuit of subsidy as a campaign for “an open internet.” Now, they stand ready to close the con. From the New York Times:
The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet.
Republicans had aspired to counter any such regulation with legislation, but conceded on Tuesday that they lack the bipartisan support necessary to get such a bill passed.
As a result, when the FCC moves forward with regulating the internet, big businesses will be legally empowered to violate the free association rights of Internet service providers and compel subsidy from everyone else online.
The FCC plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization – or fast lanes – for willing Internet content providers.
… an avalanche of support for [the FCC] plan – driven by Internet companies as varied as Netflix, Twitter, Mozilla and Etsy – has swamped Washington.
Since the cost of providing bandwidth to these companies will not change, Internet service providers will be forced to make up the difference by charging their other customers more – customers like you. Either that, or they’ll have to trim costs somewhere else, which could translate to lost jobs and hampered innovation.
Beyond the blatant violation of free association and the negative economic impact, establishing the legal perception of the Internet as “a public good” sets the stage for further rights violations in the future. If the Internet is public, it’s not yours, and you won’t be able to claim ownership over your activity on it. At the whim of regulators or legislators, your online relationships, your online speech, and your online property will each be subject to disruption or seizure.
It’s a sad day for liberty. The world’s most practical example of market success is about to be leashed to Washington cronies.