A friend of mine gave me the heads up that FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was giving a policy interview about net neutrality yesterday. Sometimes things just drop in my lap like that. Rosenworcel dissented with the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality protections:
The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people. It deserves to have its handiwork revisited, reexamined, and ultimately reversed. I raised my voice to fight for internet freedom. I’ll keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality and I hope others will too.
She also wrote this tweet, which you may have seen:
Rosenworcel summed up her net neutrality argument as “your broadband provider doesn’t make decisions for you.” I think that resonates with anyone who uses a big ISP.
She spoke a lot about the interaction of net neutrality and broadband competition.
Right now half of Americans don’t have a choice in broadband ISPs. She was clear that net neutrality was needed in the absence of a robust market for broadband. She also said that if Americans had access to multiple, competing broadband ISPs that she would reconsider whether net neutrality was still needed.
Rosenworcel argued that there’s a financial incentive for ISPs to favor established players, and when there’s no regulation stopping them, you are going to see ISPs selling your traffic to those established players. That means letting the incumbents buy traffic and stopping disruptive innovations. When ISPs compete, consumers can vote with their wallets. When ISPs don’t compete, you get what we have in America today.
She side-stepped a question about whether broadband is a human right, but she did say “You do not have a fair shot at prosperity in the 21st century without access to broadband.”
I’m on board with Commissioner Rosenworcel’s platform. I was also very happy that the moderator asked her to make the case against net neutrality, and that she could do so fairly and without slinging mud. It reminds me of Daniel Dennett’s rules for criticism:
You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”Daniel Dennett, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking
Ultimately protecting a free and open internet comes down to freedom – either freedom to choose what you want to use the internet for, or freedom to choose an ISP that will. Maybe, one day, we won’t need net neutrality. But until then, let’s keep up the pressure.
You can watch the full video of the conversation on the event’s page.