Picture 2

Picture 2

Feb 21, 2015

Internet Neutrality: Regulate Like It's 1887

The latest atrocity in the ever expanding regulation of everything by the Obama Administration is regulating the internet as a common carrier justified by enforcing internet neutrality.  The putative purpose of the regulation is to make sure that all internet traffic is treated equally.  No company should be able to buy a fast track for its traffic.  The problem is especially acute in “the last mile,” where local municipalities have sold monopoly positions to cable and telephone companies which have jacked up prices.  If the problem is geographical monopolies on the last mile, then the solution is a federal law that outlaws them because they are an illegal local burden on interstate commerce. This would be a use of the Commerce Clause as it was actually intended.

The solution is not to allow the Feds to regulate the internet based on a law passed in 1934 for regulating telephone companies as common carriers, which itself was based on common carrier railroad regulation which was originally passed into law in 1887. The Interstate Commerce Commission powers to regulate railroads bankrupted a lot of them. Railroads were deregulated in 1980 and the ICC was abolished in 1995. Jimmy Carter signed the bill in 1980 and Bill Clinton signed the 1995 bill. The ICC was such bad news two Democrats signed bills to dismantle and kill it. Why would we want to resurrect this mess for the internet?

As a side comment, a nice Constitutional Amendment would be to make all laws expire in 50 years. If Congress doesn't see fit to reenact them, they should be gone. We could avoid 80 year old laws being used as excuses to regulate us. Why 50 years, you might ask?  Because we might need Democratic votes to get the 2/3 majority of votes in both Houses of Congress  needed to propose the amendment.