As most of my readers are aware, one of my hot buttons is Net Neutrality (NN). So why would I not get into the fray around the latest issue of the U.S. government wanting to sue the state of California around NN. Essentially, California stuck its finger in the eye of this regime by creating its own NN version.
Republicans favoring big business. That is no secret. However, until now, for the most part, Congress was much more reasonable about balance. This Republican-run administration, however, blinded by its rabid hatred about punishing the Democrats for the sting handed them by the Obama administration, seems to have lost all common sense.
It seems their primary goal is to undo as much of what the Obama administration did, regardless of its impact on society. What is really ironic about this is that the current administration makes it a point to champion states’ rights – except when it disagree with what the state is doing.
California is always at the edge of the envelope. Its decision may not always be what is in the best interest of the nation, or even sometimes California. However, if one wants to see what is happening at the edge of society, look to them. So, kudos to them for taking this on!
What is interesting is what Commissioner O’Rielly said in a written statement. If you have not read it, here is a Readers Digest version, “While not surprising, California’s Net Neutrality effort reaffirms its leaders’ total lack of understanding of how technology or our economy actually works, particularly its ban on paid prioritization.” There is a bit more, but this is all it takes to understand his position. What I find ironic is his complete lack of a technical background and abundance of politics. Yet he makes a statement that makes one believe he may understand technology. Even more astonishing, in light of his comments, is that he was appointed by Obama!
On the other side is Commissioner Rosenworcel. Her written statement goes like this. “A hefty thank you to the Golden State for your effort to get right what the FCC got wrong when it wiped out our open internet protections late last year. The FCC’s misguided decision to roll back Net Neutrality gave broadband providers the green light to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content.”
While also not having a technical background, she does have a J.D, which, to me, gives her more credibility in understanding the economic impact of policies such as NN. She is also of the Obama era but did not sell out to the current administration (makes me wonder if she is now on Trump’s hit list).
Then there is the chairman, Ajit Pai. Also a holdover from the Obama era. However, I know him a bit better than O’Rielly – see him at conferences, from time to time, and had the opportunity to have lunch with him a couple of years back. He also holds a J.D and is a career politician. While he is against NN, I do not believe he sold out to the current administration. I say that because, back in 2014, Pai indicated he was a fan of a free and open Internet and the FCC was not the entity to determine NN. He stated, “A dispute this fundamental is not for us, five unelected individuals, to decide. Instead, it should be resolved by the people’s elected representatives, those who choose the direction of government, and those whom the American people can hold accountable for that choice.”
Well, IMHO, California did two things right. The first is to exercise states’ rights and pass legislation that is pertinent to them. Second, is to follow Pai’s lead by doing this legislatively. Granted, Pai’s intent was to let Congress make the national rules, but on a smaller scale, that is exactly what California did.
I have always wanted to see NN reinstated. However, I am beginning to think that implementing it on a state level might just be the way to go. It is, kind of, a middle ground. Everybody affected does business in every state. Moreover, it might be possible that each state has its own definition of how their local Internet entities should, or should not, be regulated.
The federal government’s position is that the Internet is a national, even global platform and states do not have the right to impose their own rules on such a playground. However, interstate highways are national as well, yet each state can impose the speed limit they see fit within their boundaries.
One thing is for sure. It is foolish to think that mega-broadband providers, left to their own devices, will be fair. The players with the most money will rule the bandwidth and the playing field will be far from level. So, definitely, some sort of regulation is called for.
It will be interesting to see how this showdown proceeds.