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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15068/against-net-neutrality/

Against Net Neutrality

December 20, 2010 by

net neutrality pictureAs a recent column in the Wall Street Journal reminds us, online freedom is jeopardized in the name of “net neutrality” (The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom). This is just another case of the state re-labeling things to sound benign but that are really invasions of liberty and property rights–another good example being use of the term “intellectual property” to masque the true nature of state-granted monopoly privilege rights (patent and copyright) (see my post Intellectual Properganda).

It is true that some corporations probably have extra-market power to control aspects of the Internet, as the result of state interventions such as IP, FCC licensing, antitrust law, big business favoritism, and so on. But the solution is not to grant the state even more power to regulate private companies.This is the criminal gang that has fouled things up in the first place. Another recent example of federal Chutzpah is the Obama administration’s proposal to provide a “Web Privacy ‘Bill of Rights’“–how obscene. The mob that is the greatest threat to online privacy freedom, and rights will protect us? I’m reminded of the phrase, “We’re from the government. And we’re here to help.” Thanks, but no thanks, guys.

These are the same parasites who do everything they can to hobble and destroy business and innovation–they impose costly regulations; tax individuals, making employees more costly; inflate the money supply and cause destructive business cycles; impose insane, murderous policies on pharmaceutical and medical innovations via the FDA; and then impose double tax by taxing corporations too, after imposing Sarbannes Oxley on them for the “privilege” to exist as a corporation (a privilege that is not a privilege; corporations do not need state privileges to exist–see Legitimizing the Corporation and Other Posts; Richman and Carson on the BP Oil Spill; Should Libertarians Oppose “Capitalism”?; Rothbard on Corporations and Limited Liability for Tort; Comment on Knapp’s Big Government, Big Business — Conjoined Twins; Pilon on Corporations: A Discussion with Kevin Carson; Defending Corporations: Block and Huebert).

And then, as a solution to the damage done to innovation by the state’s malicious hobbbling, the maniacal intellectual properteers urge giving the state more power to grant intellectual monopoly privilege grants to companies. (But then, if the companies use these monopoly grants “too much”, it’s called “abuse” and the state persecutes them under its evil antitrust laws.) (See State Antitrust (anti-monopoly) law versus state IP (pro-monopoly) law.)

Likewise, net neutrality is an attempt by the state to see more power to control private property rights as an ostensible response to various “market failures” that are really themselves caused by state intervention. In this, it is anohter example of the state’s creating a crisis and using this as a justification to seize more power under the pretense of saving the people from the crisis that it caused. (See Robert Higgs, Crisis & Leviathan.)

Libertarians should oppose net neutrality–and the state interventions that gives rise to the problems net neutrality pretends to address. (See my posts Net Neutrality Developments and Libertarian Take on Net Neutrality (both reposted below); also Harvard’s Yochai Benkler on Net Neutrality and Innovation.) Don’t trust the state to “protect” you. Ever.


Erick December 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I get bored by the many links in your posts, Stephan. Could you not reference your every other post you ever wrote every time you write a new one?

DD5 December 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

How is it even possible to “get bored” by links unless you actually follow them every time you encounter them, over and over and over …again?

The links are not mandatory. They are optional in case you didn’t get that.

Iain December 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Lol oh brother. You are criticizing him for using the internet to its full potential? You criticize someone for making as many links to pertinent information as possible? What a croc.

Stephan Kinsella December 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

It takes a lot of time to do this. It’s like footnoting. I think some people benefit from it. This seems to me to be a bizarre criticism.

P. Hobbs December 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Mighty fine use of aplomb there Stephan. I doubt I could have done the same for such a stupid comment if it were directed my way.

Nick Vertucci December 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

“Mighty fine use of aplomb there Stephan.” Indeed: well-handled, sir. A fine article it is too, and most refreshing after dredging through the outpouring of foolish Slashdot comments on this issue. (Although at SD there seemed to be one of each type of bad “argument” in favor of “Net Neutrality” and regulation in general, which is perhaps interesting for taxonomic purposes.)

And I very much appreciate your footnoting. (As surely most readers do.) Not only does it point me to stuff I’ve missed, but revisiting old arguments in a new light helps one see the consistency and development of these ideas. And it is indeed a lot of work: thanks.

J. Murray December 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

My only complaint would be the way it is done. You could just link the term or idea to the article instead of putting a separate link within the parenthesis. That would clean up the post a bit.

Stephan Kinsella December 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

There is no easy way to do footnotes. I like to put the name of the post referred to for context so people know what it is before they click on it. (I am trying to get them to add WP-footnotes plug-in–that will make this cleaner; for now, it’s not available; so I thin the extra clutter is a price worth paying to provide more info and context to the reader.)

Enjoy Every Sandwich December 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Another recent example of federal Chutzpah is the Obama administration’s proposal to provide a “Web Privacy ‘Bill of Rights’“–how obscene.

It is indeed obscene. Unfortunately a lot of people fall for it, because they’ve no clear idea of what a right is and they believe that rights are “granted” by the government.

Fernando Herrera December 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I have written a couple of Mises Daily on the topic, in case someone is interested:

Stephan Kinsella December 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Thanks–I had missed those! SK

Harry December 27, 2010 at 7:44 pm

I’m not for government regulation, but in most markets internet access is effectively a duopoly. What mechanism would you propose to keep ISPs from favoring or throttling content when free market competition is not possible? Your article express well what you don’t like but you offer no alternative. Who protects the consumer?

Paul Sutera December 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

It seems another article that wants to somehow blame the 2008-2009 implosion of the US economy on too much regulation, too much “evil” government that can’t do anything right. Just for the record, NASA’s website is NASA.gov. Someone who wants to make the point that regulations kill jobs and will kill the internet too. Well last time I checked, jobs were killed by a financial crisis that was caused by LACK of government regulation and oversight, and by outsourcing, again caused by a government not imposing any costs on corporations that decide to close factories or outsource highly technical positions in the USA. Look at Germany, chock-a-block overlarded with regulations, yet 7% unemployment and factories running at fall capacity, manufacturing at 25% of the economy versus about 12% in the USA. Another person who bangs the drum for the capitalists who have destroyed the middle class in this country.

Edgaras December 27, 2010 at 9:14 pm

where do you think you are?

CriticalCitizens December 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Please see my blog at http://criticalcitizens.blogspot.com/ to learn how you can protest the FCC takeover.

Matt December 30, 2010 at 10:54 am

This isn’t a rant against Net Neutrality. This is a rant against government intervention, which in this case is in the form of NN. Nowhere in this piece did you address the issues of NN, you just railed against the government. You should really have titled your post better.

A damn shame, because I *still* haven’t seen a good argument against NN.

nate-m December 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

There is no “Network Neutrality” without government intervention in the internet. They are one and the same.

To get good technical arguments why we should not have NN laws you have to understand how the internet works and how economics works. Both fields of study are, unfortunately, very much beyond the experience of most internet folks… even very technical ones. Understanding how TCP works on a high level is not going to really help you much in understanding why NN is just silly.

Plus “Network Nuetrality” is really very poorly defined. Its one of those things terms that is designed to really confound the issue and be all things to all people. Political types understand very deeply the idea that people only hear what they want to hear. If NN sounds good to you then you will automatically filter out things you don’t like and if NN sounds bad to you then you will automatically filter out things you like.

Just like how you like the idea of having a nice internet connection, and NN is for you having a nice internet connection, so you filtered out all ideas that NN is 100% about implementing government laws on ISPs. All you have to do is read the books published on the subject… at the very core of NN debate is the concept that you cannot trust major corporations and that you need governmental intervention to protect people from their greed.

To understand why NN is stupid you have to understand how the the internet, on the physical layer, operates.

The original design created a series of “tier”s: you have backbone providers (tier one), regional carriers (tier two) and then ISPs (tier three). The major backbone providers ran the main internet networks…. they provided services that spanned around the entire USA and even around the entire globe. The tier two folks would purchase bandwidth from the backbone providers then run various data connections (like a T1 or T3 line or whatever) out to various cities. ISPs would then purchase the bandwidth from them, pay for a connection to their local offices, then provide networking services to businesses and individuals through phone lines and dedicated data connections.

Anybody who takes networking class would be aware of these sort of relationships. It is clean, logical, and well designed. It also kept control of the internet in the hands of the major backbone providers and this is how they wanted it kept.

Over time the ISPs and teir two folks became increasingly dissatisfied with the level of service and costs that the backbone providers provided.

If I am trying to send traffic to another ISP that is in the next county or the next state then why does it make sense to keep paying the backbone provider when I can set up my own connection and get internet connection to them at cost instead of having my profits drain into the back bone providers?

So that is were you had peering relationships. ISPs and teir two folks just started making their own connections to everybody else instead of relying on the backbone providers. Then you have the ISPs getting larger and setting up their own dedicated networks and pushing the higher levels out of the market more and more.

So now instead of being forced to send network bandwidth over the backbone providers you can send bandwidth from ISP to ISP to ISP directly or a whole host of other possibilities. Each with their own set of costs, bandwidth, latency, and technical issues.

There has been a huge number of disputes and in fighting over who should pay for what.

This is, needless to say, insanely complicated. Different routes involve different relationships, different contracts, different costs at different times of day, etc etc.

And this has also gone into providing faster and faster connections at lower costs with a massive increase in reliability. Efficiency is up and costs are down and we have to thank economics and private enterprise.

Right now I have a 16Mb/s connection to the internet for 30 dollars a month. (promotional price). A few years back I was looking at getting a dedicated T1… that would of cost between 700-1300 dollars a month at 1/16th the performance.

Then on top of that we have different types of networking.

Lets say you have bittorrent running for downloading bulk movies. Your looking at moving between 700 (low quality) to 8GB (high quality movie) of data over the lifetime of that download.


A VoIP connection that is running 16Kb/s per second and will maybe only move 10-20 MB over the life of the conversation.

Would you be happy if your BT download was running at 30Kb/s?
Would you be happy if your VoIP connection had a quarter of a second delay that would shoot up to 2 or 3 seconds and had a lot of missing words?
Would you be angry if the BT download connections took 2-3 seconds to build if you could get the connections at 16Mb/s?
Would you be happy if your VoIP connection had 30Mb/s of excess bandwidth even if your only going to use 1/5th of one percent of it?

With all sorts of different ways and different costs of shoving data around on the internet it make sense that the ISPs and other network providers will be making trade offs in latency vs bandwidth vs costs based on what type of data and the quality of service demanded of different types of protocols.

All network neutrality laws will do is just institutionalize one specific way to route traffic on the internet regardless of efficiency or cost or any innovations in routing technology or peering relationships.

marvin nubwaxer January 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm


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