In this paper, Seaboard Group takes the position that Net neutrality advocates romanticize the Internet, bringing in emotional and even sensationalist rhetoric to their portrayal of its history and future. Treating the Internet as some sort of pastoral elysium rather than a tool to be managed and used, we argue, would have dire consequences for the future health of the Internet should legislators/regulators attempt to embrace these misguided notions.
This paper will illustrate why the romanticized version of the Internet is faulty. We suggest that such a vision is based on false precepts, and how the regulations being called for by advocates of Net neutrality, if put in place, will impede the growth, potency and relevance of the Internet in the future.
Seaboard Group advocates simply that the Internet be recognized for what it is and treated as such. The Internet is a tool. It is a tool of increasing importance to many and it’s ubiquity is growing but it remains essentially a tool.
Our conclusion is that the government should forbear from overt regulation of the Internet. Let market forces, coupled with existing legislation and regulation that safeguard consumer and corporate interests, continue to shape the Internet. In so doing, private capital investing in network provision and expansion will be rewarded. Operators that make the investments needed to continue to increase the quality of the product and enhance the user experience will also be rewarded. On the other hand, operators who invest too little and ‘shape’ traffic too much will find themselves with a dissatisfied and shrinking user base and diminished customer spending.
The ideal role for government is to be gentle in its attempt to husband the online environment. Our advice? Speak softly, and if there must be a stick, make it a small one. We might also suggest that it also carry some carrots--should the urge strike--to encourage specific innovation (like remote area access). A modicum of encouragement might well work more miracles than the threat of sanction.