The other day, President Obama stated in a short video that the FCC should regulate the Internet as a utility.
While Obama can’t personally do much at this point on this issue (especially with Republican control of Congress), this hasn’t stopped conservative Senator Ted Cruz of Texas from comparing net neutrality to the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” To quote his tweet on the subject:
“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
Obviously, regulating the Internet to promote net neutrality isn’t comparable to Obamacare. (I’ll ignore that, while Obamacare’s an inferior solution to a single-payer system like the ones in Canada/Europe, it does patch over most of the worst aspects of US health care, but I digress.)
Regulating the Internet as an utility is long overdue. The Internet’s become a vital component of our lives, like phone service or electricity. It’s no longer a luxury item, or can be dismissed with Luddistic attitudes as “that thing the kids are into.”
As for a lack of net neutrality, we’re already seeing signs of that happening now, with throttling, Netflix forced to pay Comcast to get decent speeds, etc. Treating the Internet with an anti-regulation attitude will just see it become like cable TV service…and even the most libertarian type likely isn’t a fan of their cable company, unless they own stock in Comcast. Of course, it’s cable companies that own a lot of the ISPs in the US, which alone should be a strong argument in favor of net neutrality.
Even if we ignore the common good and view this from a purely business perspective, I doubt a lack of net neutrality will keep US business competitive with other countries that have stronger regulations and/or a more competitive Internet infrastructure.
Matthew Inman, cartoonist of “The Oatmeal,” drew a cartoon on this subject, and why it’s not a partisan issue:
There’s also this useful CGP Grey video explaining what net neutrality is and why it’s important.