On Tuesday, the DC Circuit Court ruled that the FCC doesn't have the authority to impose "net neutrality" on internet providers. Previous to Tuesday's ruling, Comcast, for instance, couldn't slow down your access to Netflix in order to encourage you to use Comcast's speedy streaming service instead.
This ruling is a historic victory for America’s innovators and the free market. I have been fighting these socialistic regulations since former FCC Chairman Genachowski first proposed them. At that time, I cautioned that these egregious rules would be overturned. Instead of putting in place more rules that restrict our freedom, this administration should be working with Congress to enact solutions that encourage more innovation and job creation.
I'm honestly not sure how the free market applies here. A private company's ability to keep you from accessing the websites you want to access seems like the opposite of "free." And I'm not sure how telling ISPs that they have to treat all websites the same — even that of competitors — is socialist. Does socialist now mean something other than "cooperative management of the economy?" And it seems strange to suggest that letting ISPs decide which websites a consumer can see is going to encourage innovation.
I am not alone, it seems. Over at Popular Science, James Grimmelmann, a professor of law at the University of Maryland and director of the University's Intellectual Property Program, and Josh Levy, the internet campaign director at Free Press, are talking about how this isn't exactly a victory for freedom:
What were the stakes in Verizon v. FCC?
James Grimmelmann: Whether the FCC's net neutrality rules — which prevented ISPs like Verizon from discriminating against particular websites or services — were valid. With the anti-discrimination rules struck down, Verizon is free to tell a Netflix, a Google, or a Facebook, "We won't let our customers connect to you unless you also pay us."
Josh Levy: The stakes were no less than the future of the open internet. The FCC’s rules, while imperfect, provided some protections for internet users. With those rules thrown out, ISPs now have the power to block any online content they like. This is the opposite of the open internet. It’s a dark day for internet users.