NetN

Net Neutrality has been in place in the US since 2015

Net Neutrality has been a major discussion point in the US over the last few months, September in particular. This debate has occurred not only in the political sphere, but also in every corner of the internet. Whether it is YouTube content creators urging you to protect them from ISP abuse, or corporations concerned about website access raising objections in advertising campaigns, the net neutrality protection militia has been vocal. These cries come largely with a reasonable and noble cause: the protection of the American consumer. But I am here to tell you why this effort is in vain. While net neutrality could in theory protect consumers, this regulation is unnecessary and puts an unfair burden on ISPs.

First, I want to get the notion out of your head that the Internet is special. The internet has no underlying exemption from the rules that govern the rest of our society. With this in mind, regulation of the internet (or in this case the corporations that provide access to it) should only be enforced if they are necessary. To expand, government intervention, in any regard, should only happen when government needs to intervene. This is not to say that commercial abuse is not one of those times, but in the case of net neutrality it should be expected of the free market to solve the abuse problems on its own, eliminating the very necessity that should be present to drive government action. Allow me to explain.

In a world without net neutrality, a free internet would continue to persist. This statement is driven by a principle that is the driving source of what allows economic freedom to work. It is as follows: In a free market scenario, if consumers are dissatisfied with prices, the prices will change in a way that answers that dissatisfaction. Okay, so this example is broad. Maybe you are coming up with a disproof at this very moment, but whether I can prove this principle fully and entirely as truth or not, let’s apply this line of thought to the net neutrality situation.

Say that you get your internet service from company A. With the repeal of net neutrality company A begins to impose bans on certain cites, and limit speed to others. You, the consumer are not happy.  But this is where markets go to work. Without government regulation on the internet you are free to choose a service provider at your own discretion. Maybe company B sees all the opportunities in providing internet service without extra fees, or maybe disgruntled internet users crowdfund their own startup ISP. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. In some way, someone will inevitably try and provide a less restricted product if it is the will of the individuals that purchase that product. Under a free market system consumers have power over the companies from which they choose to consume. In an ISP situation this basically means that internet consumers would not only be in the same place today in terms of prices, but likely be in an even better place given the inherent market competition created by repealing these restrictions.

With all this in mind, net neutrality only limits the potential of internet providers. Net neutrality creates an inherently even playing field for all consumers and websites, but when doing this comprises the bargaining power of both. For these reasons, it is important to remember that standing against net neutrality is not a stand against a free internet, but a stand for one.  Obviously these issues are complex, and this piece only covers one area of a vast discussion. So, go educate yourself on the functions that net neutrality serves. At the end of the day, I feel that net neutrality is not vital to protecting consumers and as such is a waste of government resources.

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Posted by Benjamin Lemley

Host of the Moderate Libertarian Podcast on YouTube and writer for 71Republic. On Instagram @moderate.libertarian or @ben.405

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