The Wall Street Journal applauded a court decision invalidating the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality regulations, spinning the rules as hampering innovation and benefitting only “the giants of Silicon Valley,” despite experts who warned of the damaging impact such a ruling might have on the public's access to online content.
D.C. Court Of Appeals Invalidates FCC's Net Neutrality Standard
Reuters: “U.S. Court Of Appeals Overturns Net Neutrality.” On January 14, the D.C. Court of Appeals invalidated a FCC requirement that internet service providers offer equal access to online information, regardless of the source. From Reuters:
A U.S. court has overturned portions of the Federal Communications Commission's contentious net neutrality rules, saying the FCC does not have the authority to dictate to wireless carriers what they can charge to whom and when.
The idea of “net neutrality” is also called “open internet” because it argues that no government or company can regulate the flow of the Internet. Advocates say that if left without regulation, large service providers will give preferential treatment to larger companies that can pay more. Meanwhile, smaller tech companies without deep, corporate pockets, will not be able to compete for premium service. [Reuters, 1/14/14]
Wall Street Journal Applauded The Ruling, Attacked “False Equity” Of Net Neutrality Standards
Wall Street Journal: Net Neutrality Standards Undermines Innovation And Makes No Economic Sense. In a January 14 editorial, the Wall Street Journal claimed that the net neutrality rule constituted a “political intervention that impeded innovation in the name of a false equity that serves only the giants of Silicon Valley.” The paper argued:
Net neutrality travels under the guise of ordering Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast not to discriminate against content providers. In reality it's a government attempt to dictate how these providers must manage their Internet pipes and how much they can charge companies for using those pipes.
This makes no more economic sense than forcing a cable company to charge one price no matter how many channels a consumer subscribes to, or saying a retailer can't charge more for two dresses than for one. It also means less innovation and slower broadband rollout because Internet companies are less sure of their return on investment. [The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/13]
Experts: Net Neutrality Ruling Gives Corporations Control, Restricting Public's Access To Online Information
World Wide Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee: Information Vital To Democracy Relies On A Neutral Internet. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, explained that equal access to the web “has been critical to the web's growth and is critical to its future,” according to The Guardian. Berners-Lee went on to lay out how net neutrality encourages democracy. From The Guardian (emphasis added):
BERNERS-LEE: We need to be able to find ways of coming to agreements with people in other countries, in other cultures, about what we are going to do with our planet and how we are going to solve global warming. For that, we need a very strong democracy.
Democracy involves people being informed, being able to communicate, being able to hold each other accountable. And all that absolutely depends on the neutral internet. [The Guardian, 1/11/14]
Internet Innovator Vinton Cerf: Loss Of Net Neutrality Would “Fundamentally Undermine” Principles That Made Internet Successful. Vinton Cerf, a computer scientist recognized as one of the fathers of the Internet, observed that a system without net neutrality “would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.” [Transcript, U.S. Senate, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 2/07/06]
Columbia Law Professor: Ruling Creates “Situation Where Providers Can Block Whatever They Want.” Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the phrase “net neutrality,” told the Washington Post the implications of the court's invalidation of net neutrality rules:
WU: It leaves the Internet in completely uncharted territory. There's never been a situation where providers can block whatever they want. For example, it means AT&T can block people from reaching T-Mobile's customer service site if it wanted. They can do whatever they want. [The Washington Post, 1/14/14]
PCWorld: Ruling Could Allow Internet Providers To Give “Preferential Treatment” To Corporate Content. In a January 14 post, PCWorld explained how corporations could profit off the ruling striking down net neutrality regulations:
Net neutrality advocates fear that without rules in place, big companies like Netflix, Disney, and ESPN could gain advantage over competitors by paying ISPs to provide preferential treatment to their company's data. For example, YouTube might pay extra so that its videos load faster than Hulu's on the ISP's network.
We've already seen shades of What Could Happen in AT&T's Sponsored Data and Comcast's decision to have the Xfinity TV streaming app for the Xbox 360 not count against Comcast subscribers' data caps. [PCWorld, 1/14/14]
Former Special Assistant For Science, Technology, And Innovation Policy: Without Net Neutrality, Internet Providers Are “Gatekeepers” Of Internet. In a January 14 Reddit post, Harvard professor Susan Crawford, former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy under President Obama, explained:
[The ruling] means that the major providers of high-speed Internet access in the US, who have systematically divided markets and tacitly agreed mostly not to compete with one another, can treat high-speed Internet access like a cable TV service = they can be gatekeepers, charge content providers (any business) for the privilege of reaching us, the subscribers - and, of course, charge us. A lot. for lousy service compared to, say, Stockholm or Seoul. [Reddit.com, 1/14/14]