No matter what you think of network neutrality — for it, against it, it’s complicated, who cares — the fact that a federal court just struck down most of the FCC’s net neutrality rules is clearly cause for concern.
But not for the reasons you think. Others are saying that the FCC just lost the battle but “can finally win the war” — if the agency formally “reclassifies” broadband as a heavily regulated “common carrier” (like traditional telephone services). Actually, the FCC lost the battle, but it just won the war over regulating the internet. It no longer needs to bother with reclassification, a process so difficult and drawn-out it was always a political fantasy anyway.
The FCC’s broad new powers should worry everyone, whatever they think of net neutrality. Because beneath the clever rallying cries of “net neutrality!” lurks a wide range of potential issues. Most concerns are imaginary or simply misplaced. The real concerns would be better addressed through other approaches — like focusing on abuses of market power that harm competition.
But first, we need to look at the ruling in a more nuanced way.
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