Regulation often serves the purpose of freezing in place a business model that has been profitable to politically connected business, thus dampening price signals and innovation.
Net neutrality is a perfect example. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Mozilla, and Netflix are content providers. They rely on networks like AT&T and Verizon to carry their content to users. The current business model embodies the principle of "net neutrality" whereby networks treat every bit of information equally. The alternative could be, say, building a "fast line" for some data, like streaming video.
A new business model, with innovation, could result in a new business model, and this could result in the content providers or their customers paying more for premium lanes. This terrifies Netflix and scares the others.
The Obama administration worked closely with the providers to shape the principle of net neutrality into a regulation. In fact, the Obama White House broke its own lobbying rules to do so: Obama hired Google's top lobbyist, Andrew McLaughlin as a key tech policy official. McLaughlin then collaborated with Google's lobbyists in crafting net neutrality rules.
Under the lead of President Trump's Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC voted recently to reverse those rules
With Pai set to testify Wednesday before a Senate Committee, the Internet giants have come out swinging in defense of Obama's regulations, Reuters reports:
A group representing major technology firms including Alphabet Inc [Google] and Facebook Inc urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday to abandon plans to reverse the landmark 2015 rules barring internet service providers from blocking or slowing consumer access to web content.
The Internet Association said in its filing with the FCC that dismantling the net neutrality rules "will create significant uncertainty in the market and upset the careful balance that has led to the current virtuous circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem."
The rollback will harm consumers, said the group, which also represents Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Inc, Netflix Inc, Twitter Inc and Snap Inc.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.