Sunday, April 19, 2015

Internet access in parts of the world wouldn’t even exist if Net Neutrality were there

I read an article a few weeks back that noted the seemingly impossible survey results that in several 3rd world countries, more respondents indicated that they used Facebook than the number that used the Internet.

Impossible.  Right?  After all, Facebook EXISTS on the Internet.  One cannot access, the Facebook mobile app, Facebook Messenger app, Facebook Desktop Chat, Facebook mobile site, and more without Internet access.  And that is true.

But when the researchers dug further, they discovered that in some parts of the world where broadband Internet access is scarce, enterprising mobile phone providers had begun offering limited Internet access to their customers for a small monthly charge, a charge substantially lower than if they had full Internet access.  This limited Internet on their phones often was only allowed to access Facebook and nothing else.

These customers’ experience with the Internet on a daily basis was strictly through the Facebook mobile apps.  It was an affordable way for not only the mobile phone providers to offer some Internet, it was an affordable way for mobile phone users in these parts of the world to get on the Internet, even if it was only a tiny fraction of the Internet.

But the size of the slice of Internet they could access wasn’t really the point.  The point was that they had Internet access.  Finally.  The free market worked.  Consumers wanted Internet (mostly Facebook, it turns out), providers couldn’t afford to offer them full access, so they were presented with Facebook-only Internet.  And it was a huge success.  So Instead of “no Internet”, at least they had Facebook, which is a good starting point.

The free market delivered.  Again.

Net Neutrality, however, makes it illegal in the United States to offer Internet access to any consumer that either gives preferential treatment to one site/content source or to block sites or traffic.  ILLEGAL.  If Net Neutrality existed in these 3rd world countries, millions of people who have limited Internet access today would have NO INTERNET access at all.  Zilch.

As is the case with just about any federal government program that promises to maintain “free access” to whatever, it does just the opposite.  Net Neutrality is the antithesis of the free market.  It gets in between you, as a consumer, and the merchant (the broadband provider) and restricts a big, long list of terms that you are NOT ALLOWED TO AGREE TO within your contract with them.  It is ILLEGAL to offer Facebook-only Internet access in the United States.  Yes, ILLEGAL.  Even if it’s 100% free.

You read that right.  Net Neutrality makes it illegal to offer Internet access in the United States if it’s not 100% of the Internet.  If the provider blocks porn, Nazi propaganda, Facebook, red high-heeled shoes, eBay Swahili, the Roman numeral ‘MMXCVIII’, photos of barns with purple polka dots, or 3-legged dogs, it’s illegal, even if this limited Internet access is 100% free.

Yes, illegal.

Aren’t you glad you live in a country that’s so “developed” that it’s illegal for someone to give you something for free?

Read the anti-free-market rules of Net Neutrality yourself, downloaded from the FCC in three formats: PDF | Word | Text