Ryan and I were playing Devil’s Advocate today against the death of net neutrality. The most compelling argument was that free markets have proven efficient and really, after spending billions of dollars on laying cables.. you should be able to manage it however you like. After all, it was the carriers that spent billions of dollars building it and it’s not under Uncle’s authority to tell them how to use it.
But as compelling as this fantasy is.. it’s just not true. Monopolies are, by definition, illegal and the big telcos (I’m talking to you Verizon) exist because we the people and the government allow them to. We understand the free market could not exist without competition, so we permit a special sort of government-granted monopoly to exist but set aside certain aspects of their network to be used by competitors. Then we give them special access to dig, and effectively support the big telcos in building an infrastructure for the people.
We the people also offer huge tax incentives for the building of new networks and even pay them to provide service to some communities. They are, under no circumstance, just average free market capitalist trying to build a great product. They are heavily funded, backed by Uncle and sometimes just a division of the government. After the latest NSA spying exposure, it’s really hard to tell where that division ends.
Now the lobbyists have done some amazing things in the past, but this takes the cake because net neutrality is the most important consumer protection internet citizens have left. Most subscribers have no choice of their service provider, and now they don’t even have a choice of how they use their internet. With net neutrality dead, Verizon could technically block access to this article or even our entire website.
If I was an NRA member, which I’m not yet, I would be more outraged about the potential censorship of the internet then I would be if Uncle came for my guns. I mean.. the internet allows everyone anonymity and true freedom of speech. The uprisings in Egypt and Syria where all coordinated over social media such as facebook and twitter. People use the internet to communicate, organize and even protest. Now an uprising can be squashed digitally by any evil monopoly guy or even his hat.
Shame on you big telcos, we’re going to fight and change this.