Proponents of net neutrality laws are feeling deflated today since the amendment offered in the mark-up session on the House telecom bill was shot down. This is one of those cases where I just can’t understand the clamor for legislation. We have become a society that imagines boogie men, then seeks legislation that would keep them from becoming real.
Congress should not be in the habit of legislating against things before they become a problem. That mentality stifles innovation, and creates huge problems.
When Congress passed the 1992 Cable Act, cash flows declined, investment stalled, people lost jobs, growth stagnated and stock value dropped by 10%. They took action to address a problem that didn’t exist and crippled an industry. The bill was so bad, and so destructive, it had to be rewritten just 4 years later.
What’s particularly amusing about that bill was the reason it was written – to give telephone companies an easy entry into providing video service. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same reason the House is rewriting our telecom laws today. After the 1992 Act and the 1996 Act – when the Bells swore they wanted to provide video – they did nothing with the new rules they had been given.
When you start to worry about being able to reach Google because your DSL line is provided by a company like Verizon – which has spoken in favor of a tired internet – don’t stress out. Just keep in mind that the phone companies have rarely followed through on anything they’ve promised.