Do you remember way back in spring 2015, when several Internet providers prevented people from streaming Netflix? No, neither do we. That’s because it didn't happen, and nothing like it has ever happened.
Nor will it happen in 2018, despite that dreary, histrionic wailing you’ve heard this week about the Federal Communications Commission's decision to roll back so-called "net neutrality," an onerous and intrusive, but thankfully short-lived Obama-era regulation. You cannot, or at least should not, believe about 90 percent of what is being sloppily reported about net neutrality by journalists and then spread widely by ignorant entertainers such as Jimmy Kimmel.
Between them, these malign do-gooders have given the impression that the repeal of net neutrality will end the Internet as we know it. The humdrum truth is, on the contrary, that the FCC is returning the Internet to the regimen under which it has operated for most of its existence and thrived. Anyone who tells you otherwise is retailing falsehood, either knowingly or inadvertently.
Net neutrality has been with us only since June 2015, when former President Barack Obama's FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, declared that the Internet would be treated as a utility, a move that allowed the grasping reach of the federal government to the web. Now that the FCC has reversed this characteristic overreach by Obama's bureaucrats, the rules will return to exactly what they were for more than three quarters of Obama’s presidency, all of George W. Bush’s, and all of Bill Clinton’s. Given that the Internet was not in crisis during those periods, there’s no need to panic now. Everyone can calm down, not, of course, that the Democrats and the Left will find it politically expedient to do so. But when they tell you the sky is falling, you can respond by looking up into the blue and letting them know that you just saw a pig fly by.
The FCC decision this week did not even abolish “net neutrality,” the principle that companies providing Internet service must provide equal access to everything online. But the agency did discard a ham-fisted attempt to impose it by regulating the Internet under an 80-year-old law written for landline phone companies. Rules about net neutrality will now be imposed in a more sensible way, one that does not amount to the imposition of federal price controls that stanch investment and innovation. Either the Federal Trade Commission will lightly regulate Internet service, or Congress will have to create a suitably modern, and again, lighter, regulatory framework for it.
This benign, even bland, reality doesn’t match the hype, which goes to show that corporate propaganda campaigns work. Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google, and a few other very big corporations that benefit from Title II regulation of the Internet have successfully persuaded many Internet users that theirs is the grassroots cause rather than what it really is, a piece of special interest, commercial pleading. What they’re really trying to do is work up public support for their own corporate welfare.
There is a lesson here that can be applied equally to many of the regulatory changes President Trump has achieved. When an administration reverses rules imposed late in his predecessor’s presidency, it’s usually nothing to worry about. When you’re talking about policy changes, turning back the clock to mid-2015 is just not a big deal.
Sit back, chill, and maybe watch a movie on Netflix. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to.