Early this month, in a precedent setting decision, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3 -2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast for managing its customers internet traffic needs by slowing the internet service of some customers who heavily use peer-to-peer file sharing software. The action was the first time the government had stepped in and told engineers how best to run the internet. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell spoke to conservative bloggers at the Heritage Foundation yesterday, reiterating many of the points he made in the earlier Washington Post op-ed, including:
Our Internet economy is the strongest in the world. It got that way not by government fiat but because interested parties worked together toward a common goal. As a worldwide network of networks, the Internet is the ultimate “wiki” environment — one that we all share, build, pay for and shape. Millions endeavor each day to keep it open and free. Since its early days as a government creation, it has migrated away from government regulation.
If we choose regulation over collaboration, we will be setting a precedent by thrusting politicians and bureaucrats into engineering decisions. Another concern is that as an institution, the FCC is incapable of deciding any issue in the nanoseconds that make up Internet time. And asking government to make these decisions could mean that every few years the ground rules would change based on election results. The Internet might grind to a halt in such a climate. It would certainly die of clogged arteries if network owners had to seek government permission before serving their customers by managing surges of information flow.
Also at the briefing, the Business Media Institute reports that McDowell also predicted that leftist activists will combine their nebulous calls for ‘net neutrality’ with their long held desire to revive the Fairness Doctrine, to push for government control of all web content.