A reply to John Robson on net neutrality + FCC drops a brick on our toes

When I have had time to absorb the monumental FCC decision on net neutrality, I shall have more to say.


In the meantime, John Robson, fearless in his defence of market forces, published a column in the National Post why he was against net neutrality. 

 Apart from any disagreement I may have with John on this topic, I hope it will be considered fair to point out that he lives in a regime where “net neutrality” is the official policy of the telecommunications regulator. He may eventually benefit from that policy when the film he is working on, concerning the Magna Carta, is put onto the Internet.

My reply to John’s article is as follows:

John Robson chooses to interpret “net neutrality” being like the government fussing over how grocers present goods on their shelves, which we both agree is none of its business. However, net neutrality concerns the ability of carriers to favour one supplier over another, by prices or by technical means.

For sound reasons of money and technology, the degree of competition in infrastructure is severely limited. Moreover, unlike food production, we are all of us producers as well as consumers of communications. We communicate through a very limited number of channels, owned by very few entities. The rights of some people to reach us can be restricted for many reasons, some of which are valid, and some not.

Would you prefer to have your choices controlled by carriers, or do you want a governmental referee? Canada has had “net neutrality” regulation in place since 2009, and the United States is coming around too. Both societies are affirming that our rights to communicate across networks occasionally require a neutral arbiter between the rights of the speaker and the rights of the carrier. Both sides have rights, but without regulation, the carriers rule in their own case.

It is as simple as that

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