One of the most persistent lies told in Washington is the notion that common carriage is a heavy-handed regulation that transforms innovative businesses into antiquated, government-run utilities.
Any mention of restoring this time-tested principle to the Internet causes fits among phone and cable industry lobbyists.
It’s a debate now raging throughout the record number of comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission, which has put the issue of common carriage back “on the table” as it weighs new rules to protect Net Neutrality.
The conversation has also spilled into the media, where attacking common carriage has become fodder for industry-friendly editorial writers and pundits.
Listening to their arguments is like eating tainted food. All seems well at first bite. But given time to digest, things don’t feel so settled.
Ma Bell Back from the Grave
In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, writer L. Gordon Crovitz argues that common-carrier rules would subject the Internet “to the sort of regulations that micromanaged railroad monopolies in the late 19th century and the phone monopoly in the 20th.” This future dystopia, Crovitz writes, would resemble a past where “bureaucrats … dictate how networks operate, which technologies can be used, and what prices can be charged.”