The Web is abuzz today with reports and analysis of the latest network neutrality bill to be introduced this year. The as-of-yet unnamed bill, sponsored by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) seeks to amend the Clayton antitrust act to specifically prohibit Internet service providers from prioritizing or managing any data traffic as it crosses the network and offering any sort of price tiering that would say allow a major applications provider, say Apple, Google or Disney, from paying for better quality for services, such as video or gaming, that require special treatment. If enacted, it will mean, at the very least, conventional broadband users will be forced to subsidize the bandwidth-intensive entertainment applications used by a small percentage of the population. This, Conyers and Logren assure us, is fairness. The new bill, which would put Internet price regulation in the courts, stands alongside a net neutrality bill introduced last month by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), which aims to make the FCC the final arbiter of Internet business models. Sadly it seems that the debate is no longer whether to regulate, but who will regulate.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.