Out of Control Policy Blog

The Motley Fool Nails It on Net Neutrality

One of the best sources of investment analysis for the average householder, The Motley Fool, succinctly puts the network neutrality controversy in perspective. Alyce Lomax, a Motley Fool writer, urges Google and eBay, two of the most vocal net neutrality proponents, to dial down the rhetoric and cautions readers not to pick up the phone and call their Congressman or –woman just because eBay CEO Meg Whitman's putting out "nice and scary" metaphors about two-tier Internet.

I love the democratizing elements of the Internet, and can appreciate its power to, in effect, rally Internet users. At the same time, I find this debate complicated and confusing, especially given my own political point of view. I'm no fan of big, old-school telecom companies, which of course have decades of experience in cozying up to government, er, "government relations." Considering some of their missteps over the years, I've often thought they deserved what they got as they wrangled with subscriber defections and the rapid increase in services like voice over Internet...

However, tech companies dropping loaded phrases like "free markets" in the same breath that they pursue increased government regulation is, in my opinion, a joke (not to mention there are sometimes unintended consequences to regulation with the best intentions -- including negative effects to the "creativity, innovation, and a free and open marketplace" that Schmidt speaks of in his letter). Grassroots jeans and sneakers attire aside, is this really about making sure none of us are traveling Internet roads with potholes? Or is it about these large companies' abilities to provide their services in the most profitable way possible? They can't really be blamed for their stance, but let's take freedom out of the equation.


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