The Coming Neutered Internet

The FCC wants to take ownership of the Internet through something dubious called “net neutrality.” You can be sure that once the government is involved, there will be nothing neutral about it. Obama’s head of the FCC talks about wanting to keep the Internet “robust,” and flatly states that government must be involved, or “invested,” to make this happen. So what does “robust” mean? Whatever the government — specifically, the Obama administration — decides that it means. If government is going to have say over the content of the Internet, then America had better get busy and vote in a divided government. Otherwise, there will be a one-size fits all approach to content on the Internet, determined by the government. Imagine Oprah or MSNBC in charge of all political and social commentary. The Internet is so huge, complex, and ever-changing that this is one important cause for hope. Even the Communist government of China cannot control the Internet as it would like. But just because the nature of the Internet makes totalitarian control impossible does not mean that regulation will not give us, at best, a neutered Internet. What else could “net neutrality” possibly amount to, in practice? The Internet has done just fine without government. That’s precisely why government wants to be involved.