I'm scaring myself and it's not even Halloween yet! Of course, nobody is talking about closing down the Internet, but what does seriously disturb me is Glenn Beck whining against net neutrality.
On his show yesterday, the lachrymose Fox pundit equated net neutrality with a Marxist takeover of the Internet. Yep. The Marxists are coming and they will stifle creativity, hurt competition, and control Internet content. As usual, Beck has it precisely backwards. Net neutrality is about maintaining a free and open marketplace:
The principle of net neutrality is about keeping the hands of several powerful network operators – AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast – off the Internet, preventing them from taking steps to change the basic open nature of the Net that has led to its success. Net neutrality keeps the Internet as a free and open marketplace, so that a small number of telephone and cable monopolies can’t choke off competition and innovation.Maybe Beck doesn't understand the word "neutrality." Maybe Beck doesn't understand the Internet. I know he doesn't understand freedom. But most likely Beck completely understands that he is working for those astroturf groups who will profit from a choked off Internet.
Net neutrality was a founding principle of the Internet, and was the law of the land until 2005. The courts and the regulators changed the rules in 2005 when they eliminated the nondiscrimination requirements that had applied for decades to phone service and, up to that point, to most residential Internet access. Implementing net neutrality is a return to the basic principles that make the Internet work for consumers and innovators.
The odd thing about this issue is that it cannot be summed up as "big business versus the little guy." The opponents of net neutrality are mostly telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner.
But the supporters include many big tech companies as well as small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Hell, even the Christian Coalition of America is a supporter. But now, according to Beck, they all share the common bond of Marxism.
And why? Here are the FCC rules everybody is fussing about:
- Consumers are entitled to access any legal Internet content
- Consumers are entitled to use any Internet applications or services
- Consumers are entitled to connect to any devices that won't harm the network
- The same rules apply to cable/DSL and wireless Internet
- Internet providers can't block or slow competitors' online services