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The Net: Still Stuck in Neutral

The other day, I asked if anyone knew of a good introduction to the "net neutrality" debate.

Here's a decent piece from the Weekly Standard. In it, Andy Kessler argues that both sides are wrong (which seems about right):

FINDING IT HARD TO UNDERSTAND the "net neutrality" debate? On one side are the hip, cool, billionaire web service companies like Google, eBay, Yahoo, and even Microsoft. Net neutrality is their rallying cry. Despite the fact that they are basically schlocky ad salesmen on a grand scale, they're pushing this quaint, self-serving '60s notion that the Internet is a town square--all for one and one for them, or something like that. Everyone should be allowed to hang out in the town square and use it as they please, one low price, eat all you want at the buffet.

On the other side are the monopolist plumbers like Verizon and AT&T and Comcast. These are the folks who laid the pipe that delivers the Internet--the blogs and pirated movies and photos of Shiloh Brangelina--to your house or office. They think the Internet is more like a giant shopping mall, and they're the mall owners. You the customer can walk around as if you were in the town square, but the tenants (see billionaire web service companies above) are going to have to pay for the upkeep of the premises. If they're one of the anchor stores, they might pay a lot.

In an effort to skim their own fees off the Google crowd, lobbyists and Congress have also taken up the fight. So far, the telcos are winning--a bid to add net neutrality language to a telecommunications bill was shot down 269-152 by the House on June 8--but this is one of those bizarre
issues where both sides are off their rocker.

Being the Weekly Standard, the piece offers its own big-government solution: threatening to seize telecommunications facilities under eminent domain.

Other than that, though, worth a read.

Bottom line: As in most things, it would be better if Congress didn't act.