On February 26, 2015, five unelected bureaucrats in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on the issue of net neutrality – whether the government should regulate the Internet like telephone companies. Three of them voted for net neutrality, and two of them voted against it.
Assuming the court system upholds the decision, three unelected bureaucrats have now successfully overhauled the entire behemoth Internet industry.
Let that sink in for a little bit.
We as Americans have grown so accustomed to the federal government regulating in so many areas, that the main debate is not even over jurisdiction anymore. There have been thousands of articles published on the pros and cons of net neutrality itself. But little attention has been focused on the fact that the federal government has acquired so much power over the past few decades, they can decree a ruling like yesterday’s in an instant and forever change an entire industry.
Is that how our Founders wished for our democratic republic to work? I don’t think so.
Of course, there was no telephone or Internet back in the Founders’ day. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other Founders are no longer around to give guidance on government policy regarding the Internet.
But is it really a wise idea to prescribe a policy solution for a problem that arguably does not even exist?
Is it just to force regulations from 1934 intended to govern the telephone industry on the modern Internet industry? The ruling now enables the FCC to enact rules that would prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from freely changing how quickly or slowly sites are transmitted along their own networks. When one ISP is so incensed by the ruling that they post their protest in Morse code, you know something might be wrong here.
I can see a counter to my questions from a mile away: “Is it really wise to force a document written in 1787 on American government today? Times have changed, and our Constitution and regulations need to change with the times.” Except the problem with that is that our Constitution is the highest law of the land, building our American system of government from the ground up, and was intended to last. The 1934 FCC regulations were intended to apply to the telephone industry in a different day and age. It’s simply not good policy to choke off innovation under the government’s boot.
What we need is minimalist regulations that give the most freedom possible for Internet usage under very basic rules and guidelines. What we don’t need is an agenda of forced equality at the hands of three bureaucrats.