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  • FCC Net Neutrality Smackdown a Win for Free Market, Limited Government

    In a huge win for the free market and limited government, a federal appeals court today put a halt to the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to exert its authority over the Internet and its power play to regulate the companies who provide access to it.

    The decision, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, centers around the FCC’s efforts to enact “net neutrality,” a policy that would prevent ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from managing the flow of traffic on the Internet by discriminating among content and applications that put a high load on their networks.

    The case at hand stemmed from a 2007 FCC complaint by non-profit organizations who alleged that Comcast violated the law when it interfered with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer file sharing networking programs, which drag down Internet speeds. Comcast defended its actions as necessary to manage scarce network capacity, while proponents of net neutrality advocate for the principle of “free and open Internet.” Enter the FCC, which decided to take action to regulate the Internet, much like it regulates other forms of telecommunications.

    The problem is that the FCC simply doesn’t have that authority, as the court recognized today.

    The FCC argued for an expansive interpretation of its authority by virtue of federal law, which says “The Commission may perform any and all acts, make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions.”

    The court, though, didn’t buy it. It held:

    … [N]otwithstanding the “difficult regulatory problem of rapid technological change” posed by the communications industry, “the allowance of wide latitude in the exercise of delegated powers is not the equivalent of untrammeled freedom to regulate activities over which the statute fails to confer . . .Commission authority.”

    That’s good news for Internet users, but it’s also good news for America as a whole.

    As Heritage’s James Gattuso wrote last year, the end result of a net neutrality policy would be “a slower and more congested Internet, and more frustration for users. Even worse, investment in expanding the Internet will be chilled, as FCC control of network management makes investment less inviting. The amounts at stake aren’t trivial, with tens of billions invested each year in Internet expansion.”

    And as for America? With each passing day, federal agencies promulgate more rules and regulations that amount to a pile of red tape that wind up costing Americans some $1.1 trillion per year, according to a 2005 study by the Small Business Administration.

    As the United States struggles to regain its economic footing, the last thing we need is yet another agency to grab more power, create new regulations, and hamper the growth – and speed – of the Internet.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to FCC Net Neutrality Smackdown a Win for Free Market, Limited Government

    1. Michael (NYC) says:

      In what way is this good news for Internet users? This is not simply about QOS issues (as your posting implies). This ruling gives your ISP the right to impose any policy it wishes on your use of the Internet, including the devices you can connect to their service and the content you can receive. Presumably, since they are not regulated as common carriers in principle they can control the data you receive and send, they are also permitted to do deep packet sniffing as well.

      Not surprisingly the Heritage foundation is simply on the wrong side of this issue — unless of course the whole point is to further corporate power over the lives of individuals. Having read the other piece cited in your article, I appreciate this site is concerned only with the political ideology of regulation. Unfortunately, there is no indication of any understanding of the nature of the Internet and the fundamental issues associated with net neutrality. These issues go to the heart of free speech and individual rights.

      Odd, isn't it? A conservative think tank aligned, once again, against individual freedom and squarely for increasing corporate power.

      You say: "That’s good news for Internet users, but it’s also good news for America as a whole." I say this is not ignorance on display, it is simply mendacious.

    2. Cindy says:

      You are pushing in my face that "free market" is conservatism and liberty when it is not. I am sick of you protecting the corporations and giving rich people tax breaks and saying that somehow benefits us Americans. My husband and I both work, have 3 children and still struggle because everything is expensive and you advocate that. You call that a "free" market when the rest of us calls it being raped. You kick us when we are down by making it nearly impossible to fix credit, get paid a decent wage or afford the basics. And you call that liberty. The current example: If private insurance corporations were inclined to do the right thing for all Americans they would have already done so. But they don't. And somehow you have hypnotized decent Americans into believing they don't already control our life, our health and our death. Ever hear of insurance denial? Ever seen anyone get turned down for chemotherapy? Or are you too sheltered in your sick, greedy world. And you claim that letting these corporations control our lives is somehow liberty. We haven't been a free country for decades if not longer. We must have corporate owned heat, corporate owned electricity and a home with a corporate owned mortgage to live in and we pay the price or we are homeless. I don't mind paying my way, but when the rates of the basic necessities rises constantly so that we cannot afford clothing that we need then that is no longer liberty. When we have to borrow money to buy a home and then pay more for that loan than the home is worth – that is not liberty. You should come clean and and quit lying that you are for a free America. What you do stand for is a penalty-free-raping of Americans and keeping people stupid enough to continue to fall for it.

    3. Dan says:

      Your "congestion" argument is unfounded. If I want to stream a high-def movie from Netflix, I shouldn't have to pay more than some blogger who just wants to post small-minded articles towing the party line. The infrastructure is already capable of handling far more traffic than is being moved on it, and service providers like Comcast already charge (and are welcome to charge) higher rates for faster access speeds.

      If bandwidth prices increase, your server costs will increase (assuming this rag actually gets any traffic), and you'll have to find new ways to monetize. And I sincerely doubt you're going to get enough people to pay to read this nonsense.

    4. MJF, CT says:

      A lot has changed since the 2007complaint was filed. I work in this business for the biggest ISP so trust me when I say, the bit-torrent issue is not an issue but an excuse to get legislation in place to not only limit the Internet but ALL forms of communication.

      This would include Internet, TV and radio control and the control would not be for piddly Internet download of music and video but to what you see and hear. The main thrust of this complaint was hidden – buried beneath the legal jargon and filings. What this simple complaint evolved to was the suppression of a "difference of opinions" that is transmitted via Internet, TV and radio. Call it stiffing of Right Wing pundits if you wish but the entire mess would allow the government to control what we see, hear and respond to.

      Yes, back in 2007, downloading copyrighted video via peer to peer networking was dragging down the ISP provided speeds. But that was remedied by mid 2008 by the ISP I work for and by early 2009 for the others. Video downloading on the Internet will not hurt as long as we don't have 20 million people downloading a 3 hour movie at the same time. No, the issue was NOT what it appeared (bit-torrent), the real issue was to open the door to allow control of what we hear and say otherwise known as the 1st Amendment!

    5. MJF, CT says:

      Interesting comments here. Funny, my wife and I both work (wife runs a home business) and we have 3 children too. Lie is not a bed of roses and the bills sometimes pile up but here's a thought. How many big screen TV's do you have (I have none), how many cell phones are in your family and how many times do you go out for dinner, lunch, breakfast and hoity-toity coffies? Its called living within your means which is something that we kind of forgot about over the years. So we blame the companies, CEO's and the rich for all of our problems. That is a Liberal way out of being responsible! Yes, many of us have been turned down for medical procedures but there are other ways of getting them done, but if you are always a "victim", you will never find them. Sounds like you need to pick your self up by your bootstraps, Cindy, and get your act together. We are all having a tough time but what separates a Liberal from a Conservative is a Conservative knows who really provides that jobs and who writes the checks for those of us in the working world. A Conservative knows how to cut expensies to get by until the next paycheck (maybe a few less cappuccinos?). A liberal just sits around crying "poor me, poor me, who is going to help me?".

      NYC Mike, you too are not a true reader of the Heritage because if you were, you would realize that it had been the Heritage that has pointed out where the problems and Constitutional flaws have been since the election of the "chosen one". And to you too, I say look at your paycheck and tell me you are not tied to a "rich person" somewhere in there. As I stated in the beginning of this post, both my wife & I work, we would not survive otherwise. She has a successful home business, an entrepreneur so does that make her a terrible person?

      Lest we forget, it is the successful and sometimes rich that provide the rest of us with the jobs that we have. Without us, they would not keep their business running but with out them, we have nothing! Sounds like a 2 way street to me. And THAT is another side of a Conservative. We know where our bread is buttered.

    6. Dusty says:

      The country is nearly 70% Center-Right, and yet we've come to the point where progressive liberals are running the media, academia, and government. How? Why?

      There are answers, and solutions in terms of how to take the country back. No violence. No hateful rhetoric. Just first principles and a revival of the American participatory spirit. We've got to get informed and involved…and NOW!

      You will LOVE this article: http://rjmoeller.com/2010/04/november-2010-countr

    7. Stephen, MD says:

      @Cindy –

      The same percentage of Britons who are intentionally killed each year by the NHS for budget reasons would be over 400,000 people here in the states.

      "In 2007-08 16.5 per cent of deaths in Britain came about after continuous deep sedation, according to researchers at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, twice as many as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

      “If they are sedated it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better,” Prof Millard said."

      The worst number I've heard from insurance companies is 45,000/year.

      The Oregon Health Plan (government healthcare) has denied cancer treatment, but instead offered suicide pills.

      If you were her, would you take your government pill?

      In regards to the actual topic at hand, the difference between the FCC controlling everything and the ISP providers controlling internet usage and speed is that if you don't like you ISP – you can change it. China is a perfect example of government controlled internet. We do not want the FCC in control of information, or traffic on the internet.

      That would be fascism.

      @MJF –

      I agree. I have aspirations of running my own business – and hiring people. If I got handed 1 million dollars right now, it would cover my house, my MS, my wife's MS, college funds for our kids, and oh – the 40-50% income tax.

      If I had that extra, say 400,000 of that million I could hire people! I'd start my own software company!

      But – since the government decides what's best to do with that money, I can't.

      That's what a trickle-down economy is all about. That's why this country prospered under Reagan.

    8. ak says:

      Hey Cindy the only rape and pillage that's been happening the since November 2008 has been committed by our hopey-changey government. get your head out of your liberal butt.

    9. Sam, WI says:

      Apparently, many of the first posters do not understand just how much file- sharing strains an internet connection.

      Simply put, when a person does file-sharing, they are both uploading and downloading a file, simultaneously. As such, it wouldn't take many people doing so to drag down the internet speed in the area, unless you happen to have a fiber optic connection or something about as fast. The result, is that if there were no incentive against file-sharing, people could easily limit someone esle's ability to communicate through the internet by dragging down their internet speed via file-sharing.

    10. Tim AZ says:

      Now they will go to plan B. The government will attempt to regulate free speech on the internet by claiming that the internet is a utility. Survival for the liberals is dependent on stopping this insurrection on the part of the American citizen.

    11. Brenda, Arizona says:

      I have to agree with MJF well put. This is amazing that people complain about making a living. You should be discussed with yourselves. Do you even stop to think about the people that do not have jobs to support their families. Then to blame corporations and the rich oh please!! If there where no corporations then there would be no work period!! As for the rich which I am not one of. Kuddo's to them for being able to make their dreams come true. My husband and I do work self employed and are thankful every day that we can earn a living. I absolutely hate it when people complain about corporations and the rich like it was a sin. Corporations are by no means innocent but take a look at our government!! It is the most corrupt corporation of them all. You think by taking over everything such as healthcare, corporations, banking, auto and wanting to take over the internet that would make it all better. That you would quit being regulated and taken for a ride. Do you not have any common sense. Heritage Foundation does not need to brain wash anyone. We have brains and common sense to think for ourselves. The dems had to use under handed tacts to pass healtcare what does that tell you. What would you say if you had to be forced into buying healthcare or pay a penalty and this was through the healthcare system. You would be so angry but yet it is ok for this administration to do just that through the government. It is called common sense and morals and there is neither in our current government.

    12. Bryce Wilson Stucki says:

      A big win for free markets and small government. A potentially enormous loss for freedom. Good thing your priorities are in order, Mr. Brownfield.

    13. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      If the FCC stars limiting and monitoring e-mail, soon you will see goon squads kocking on the doors of anyone who says a neg. thing about " THe Annointed One", they will disappear as will their families. BHO wants not only to rule USA, he wants to rule the world. There is a law suit pending, it's being kept quite by mainstream media, a group has brought suit under FOI Act for all records pertaing to BHO, from a crified BIRTH CERT., school record, passpots, incl. visas. Before anyof you holler a cert. of live birth, is not the same as abirth cert., my father was born in Denmark to a naturalized father and a mother who was in process of naturalization, his birth was recorded in NY after she returned to USA, as LIVE birth, this is also uses when a baby was born at home, not attended by a medical person. WE NEED TO KNOW the truth about this person.

    14. TruthSeeker, Columbu says:

      A college of mine is citing this article as an "Example of Socialistic Tendencies" by Obama. Would the readers of The Heritage agree that this article "proves" just that? I'm curious.

    15. networkgeek, Texas says:

      I work for a big ISP. If you look at netwokr provider services you know wireless data is unlimited and cheap, and wired access is 19 bucks a month. What do you other utilities cost? It's 19 bucks due to competion, down from 60 bucks only a few years ago.

      Look at the supporters of netneutrality. They are the big, evil corporations like Microsoft and Google facing off against Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and others. Net nuetrality is an industry specific, competitive issue.

      Know that putting content on the net is cheap, hence spam and scams, and blogs. Content providers and end users do not design, engineer, build, or protect the infrastructure. These networks are not cheap and just like a highway, cost billions to ensure that they work well, and are availalbe. Open network usage means those with the most money and content servers will bury the net in their business traffic, not the little movie watchers and bloggers.

      Yes more traffic means slower nets. Each data packet is like a car on a highway. Get more cars, get more congestion.

      If you want to know more details, read about the techology you will understand much of thisis science and not so much politics. Heritage is not wrong in this assessment.

    16. Anna Chronis, (Chica says:

      I object. The lack of oversight and management by the FCC will now continue to allow AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, methods to control their monopolies, gauge consumers in terms of higher prices, and make misguided decisions on choosing gadgets that their lame infrastructure cannot handle the traffic on. as such, we are all less safe and more limited as information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. When we cannot afford the fees these companies need to charge consumers due to their overleveraged, misguided CAPX spend on things like "Fios", Consumers how can't afford it, are shut out. When AT&T cannot handle the I-Phone, mission critical messages are not delivered in a timely manner. This is a horrible decision by a Court in a "District" whose Representative Cannot even vote.

      This should be appealed to a Jurisdiction that has a Senator that can vote.

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