Conservatives should support Net Neutrality


Conservatives have a knee-jerk dislike for government regulation. And most times, they're right. A free market system is impaired rather than enhanced by rules imposed by politics.

However, in spheres of commerce where we don't have a competitive market, government regulation can be a necessity. In the field of internet access, Democrats have been pushing to restore an Obama-era rule called "Net Neutrality" which would require internet access providers to provide the same access to all websites without discriminating based on cost.

And this is one of the very few times when Democrats are correct.

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Internet access is not a competitive market. In the mobile internet market there are only a handful of providers. For home high speed internet access, many companies have virtual monopolies for their geographic areas. There are simply no competitive instincts that force them to play fair.

What if Comcast decided to charge American Thinker ten times the normal rate to let users download the content of its webpages?

What if Verizon charged The Right Scoop five times what it was charging the Huffington Post?

What if TimeWarner charged Breitbart twenty times what it charged Vox?

You may think this would never happen. But large tech companies have already started to discriminate against conservatives.

Facebook has been notoriously pushing down conservative media in users' newsfeeds, heavily cutting into their traffic. Twitter has banned many conservatives simply for speaking about their views. Youtube has also been accused of discriminating against conservatives.

If publisher platforms discriminate against conservatives, how long will it be before internet access providers do the same? Because of the lack of competitive markets, there are no alternatives to keep their biases in check, just as the current lack of any substantial competitor to Facebook gives that company free reign to censor conservatives.

That's why conservatives should support Net Neutrality, though not in its current form. The Senate just voted to reinstate Net Neutrality, but the system they voted for is not very fair.

One of the most valid criticisms of Net Neutrality is that by requiring internet service providers to treat all traffic equally, they are giving an unfair advantage to companies which stream high-bandwidth content, like Netflix, at the expense of everyone else. That criticism is very correct. Under the current version of Net Neutrality, smaller websites are basically forced to subsidize larger ones like Netflix, because they all pay the same rate.

A more rational version of Net Neutrality would still require internet access providers to treat all publishers equally, but allow them to charge a set fee per megabyte of usage. Internet access providers could set the fee to whatever they like, but everyone would have to be charged equally for the same level of use. That would allow access providers to be fair to everyone while legitimately charging more for companies who use their bandwidth more extensively, like Netflix.

I'm sure people who consider themselves "true" conservatives will recoil at any government regulation. If you're one of them, be sure to explain in the comments section how, in an industry that historically has discriminated against conservatives, we can get equality in a commercial space where there is no competitive free market and no alternatives if Comcast or Time Warner decide to "do a Facebook" on us.

[originally in AT]






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