Sens. Olympia Snowe (R, Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) have resuscitated the same network neutrality bill that was defeated last term in committee. If passed, the bill would impose major regulatory scheme on the Internet, supposedly to solve a problem that does not exist. Network neutrality would prohibit the companies that build, own and operate the nation’s broadband networks from taking any strategic role in the management and optimization of information products that use their facilities, to the detriment of everyone who depends on a high-performance Internet. Network neutrality would pre-empt the development of an entire class of optional, but valuable, products, features and services that would make for a better network. This strategic role has not been denied any other group of companies that have a stake in the future development of Internet services. Google, in the pursuit of revenues and profits, can use as much capital as it wants to add any amount of software or processing power to its servers to make its search engine work better for thiose who chhose to by ad space. Nothing prevents eBay from favoring its PayPal subsidiary, an Internet-based bank and transaction-processing company, in handling fee-based account settlements with buyers and sellers. By way of an exercise, let’s analyze the key languiage in the bill. The meat of the network neutrality legislation can be found in proposed Section 12 under the heading “Internet Neutrality.”
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.