Net Neutrality: Threat or Menace? Part II

ETA: Part I here.

From last year, a notice on regulating the Internet. Henry “Socialism with a Human Face” Waxman (D-CA) was trying to get Republicans down with his Net neutrality bill, which contained God knows how many unspeakable traps for the future of conservatives and classical Liberals alike. This was a classic shakedown, using the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) illegal threats to regulate Internet speech as cover.
Why is Net neutrality bad? Net neutrality comes in two forms, the Greater and the Lesser.

  1. Greater Net neutrality is the attempt to make charging for network latency illegal, or at least regulated.
  2. Proponents say this is lovely because evil ISPs (Internet Service Providers, like dial-up, DSL and broadband, and did we mention they’re CORPORATE!?!) want to feed you laggy packets to destroy your EverCrack accomplishments (a-hem) and make your YouTube Caturday vids shudder.
  3. Of course, the idea of charging latency to end users is ridiculous.
  4. It would be impossible to track latency on packets from 1,000,000,000 computers.
  5. This is for the computers at YouTube, Netflix, &c. Big corporate customers with easily identifiable packets.
  6. Why should they not be charged for latency?
  7. Don’t they get charged for bandwidth? How is bandwidth any different than latency or setting a maximum lost packets Service Level Agreement?
  8. How do the ISPs expect to get away with making latency worse for their big corporate clients?
  9. They don’t.
  10. In fact, latency advisory bits are in the TCP/IP protocol and have been since the early ’80s.
  11. The real problem with latency is making all ISPs and Internet backbones support them to a certain level.
  12. See, since they outlawed “collusion,” any industry-wide agreement must have political support.
  13. Which is why corporations give lots of money to politicians,
  14. Who are very busy fondling underaged pages and don’t want to take time out to work on legislation for some stupid industry,
  15. Just because it creates or enables thousands of jobs in their state or district.
  16. They have lives, you know.
  17. So they demand money from the corporations.
  18. Which would not be too bad, really,
  19. As the corporations have the dough,
  20. But the politicians insists that they are “protecting” us from the evil corporations,
  21. When in reality the politicians just did the corporations a service for a huge fee,
  22. Which makes sense seeing as how most of them are lawyers and they’re used to acting this way.
  23. But the lies the politicians tell us cause the rest of us to live in fear, either from corporations or politicians.

So, that is the Greater argument on Net neutrality. It’s a little technical, and a little corporate lawyerly, but there it is. The only problem with Net neutrality is that the politicians want to lie to us about a fake threat to make themselves seem more important.

In the Declaration of Independence, this was called “the Insolence of office.”

The Lesser argument is the argument of so-called Free Speech, and comes in two parts. ISPs tend to use software packages to set up home computers, these frequently set up your browser home page. AT&T has a partnership with Yahoo!: the latter provides and administers email accounts and provides the newspaper-like home pages for Web browsers. (Please note, these home pages can be changed at any time.) Almost all Americans are so inured to advertising that this is barely noticed.

However, the corporations are limited in what they can offer. It has to be pretty bland, lest they annoy their paying customers. My dad, a person who regards his computer in much the same way most Americans regards Europe, as barely-reliable allies, managed to change his home page (to something equally as bland, heh).

But if the government starts setting standards, we run into a corruption and rent-seeking problem, where the limits on possible home pages will be jiggered to certain sites. Home page providers will be incentivized to buy politicians to keep their content legal and acceptable. Sadly, money will be the least of the dirty goods offered in exchange. Content will also be neutered and emasculated, lest it upset the Would Be Powers That Be in the crappiest school district in the United States.

(Washington, D.C., you dumb lefties.)

As Friedrich A. Hayek noted in The Road to Serfdom, the power of, say, fathers over their children is fairly large, but it also has a time limit and various traditional limits. But if the State (or the Feds) usurps this power, they wield the combined power of a hundred million fathers as a united tool — or weapon.

Bad. Very bad. But it gets worse.

See, the alternate definition of Net neutrality is the prevention of ISPs from blocking traffic to various websites. But again we must, per Frédéric Bastiat (or Penn Gillette), look not at the seen, but the unseen. No government law will protect access to child porn or such; it is impossible. Therefore, the law that demands that ISPs not block traffic to some websites will protect those ISPs that block traffic to others, ipso facto.

There is no reason pass Net neutrality, unless it is to create an industry standard for latency for traffic sensitive to lag. The rest is rent-seeking and politico-criminal shakedowns.

So there.