Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press
In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, Federal Communication Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai speaks during an open hearing and vote on “Net Neutrality” in Washington. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is following through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally. Pai distributed his alternative plan to the net neutrality rules to other FCC commissioners Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote on the proposal.
The decision by the new Federal Communications Commission chairman to abandon net neutrality regulations enacted by the Obama administration will not have the kind of impact that justifies the levels of hyperventilation among those who support stringent internet regulation.
The rules about to be rescinded were based on concerns about monopolistic practices by internet service providers (ISPs) that had not materialized into significant problems, and should they someday do so, there are mechanisms in place to address them.
That is not to say that having an unrestricted internet, sheltered from manipulation by dominant ISP companies, isn’t an important principle. In fact, there are good arguments for a regulatory posture that will allow fair and equal access to the digital superhighway. But such regulations should emanate first from actual marketplace problems that need fixing and, second, from congressional action, as opposed to unilateral rule-making by the executive branch.
Support for net neutrality regulations has grown out of concern that large ISPs, such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, are capable of restricting access by charging higher fees for large bandwidth users, such as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. While there has been some isolated evidence of such practices being tried or contemplated, no high-profile instances have risen to the level of justifying federal rules that could provide a framework for a new regulatory bureaucracy.
Philosophically, proponents of net neutrality believe ISPs should, like public utilities, be subject to regulation that assures they operate in the public interest. We…