Thought Piece

A Phony Vote on ‘Net Neutrality’: Democrats try to rile up millennials about a deregulated internet.

Long Before 3rd Cousin Net Neutrality of 2015, “They Fought over the Worldwide Internet’s “Open Access:”

In 2001, Access simply meant basic access to DSL and cable broadband, when the importance of Broadband was just emerging and wireless which was in its infancy; and in 2015, Net Neutrality covers cable, but excludes DSL and (the elephant in the room) wireless which carries 60 plus % of all Broadband transmission and is neutral by definition.

In 2018, The Internet of Things requires much more Broadband and light-handed regulation, not the micro-management of cable’s Internet, with the monopolies of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook untouched. The IOT is crucial to efficient energy production, customer energy efficiency , and global emission reductions.

I wrote a book review for the Alec Klein’s (Washington Post) book “Stealing Time’ and Warner, Too,” published in 2003. In the year of 2001 (real time, not Stanley Kubrick time), the issues of  open and balanced access to broadband connectivity were being played out on the national stage for the first and probably most important time in the development of High Speed Internet. My review is on Amazon.

A Phony Vote on ‘Net Neutrality’

Democrats try to rile up millennials about a deregulated internet.


Senate Democrats are trying to overrule Mr. Pai by deploying the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reject Mr. Pai’s rule within 60 legislative days. The Democrats can force a floor vote with a mere 30 votes. Resolutions can dodge a filibuster and pass with a simple majority.

How could this pass a GOP Senate? Meet Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who is supporting the resolution. The irony in her case is that largely rural states like Maine need more broadband investment, which has been a casualty of the neutrality scheme. Apparently investment to broaden the reach of broadband lacks the emotive political appeal of “net neutrality.”

Net neutrality activists recently took out a full page ad in a Juneau newspaper to try to pick off Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, though her vote might not be necessary. By pushing a vote Chuck Schumer is exploiting the fact that Republican John McCain of Arizona is battling cancer and unavailable to vote. That won’t be remembered as a class act.

And here comes the farce. Remember all the shock and horror over Facebook ’s data misuse? The move by Democrats would bifurcate and weaken privacy protections online.

As part of its Obama net neutrality rules, the FCC conscripted the Federal Trade Commission’s online privacy protection duties. Then the FCC promulgated a set of privacy rules that applied to cable providers but not Facebook or Google, as if consumers care who is lifting their data. This was both separate and unequal.

The current Republican-led Congress then moved to reject the privacy rules with a Congressional Review Act resolution, and President Trump signed that bill into law. By the way, Ms. Collins voted to scuttle the privacy rules. The review measure prevents agencies from issuing similar regulations. So Democrats are now moving to yank the FTC’s right to protect privacy with no replacement.

Then again, none of this is about the policy merits: The point is to fire up Democrats ahead of midterm elections. Net neutrality is the perfect issue for the left because it sounds virtuous and hardly anyone knows or cares what it means.

That’s in part because it has enjoyed a powerful propaganda campaign from the giants of Silicon Valley, which can absorb new regulatory costs better than smaller competitors and don’t want to pay for content delivery. The tech giants have throttled down this campaign in recent years, but millennial voters are still convinced that only federal regulation can fend off a dystopian future when Netflix might not load rapidly enough.