The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission, led by chairman Ajit Pai, repealed net neutrality on Thursday. New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo supplied an apt obituary. In part:
“Net neutrality is intended to prevent companies that provide internet service from offering preferential treatment to certain content over their lines. The rules prevent, for instance, AT&T from charging a fee to companies that want to stream high-definition videos to people.
“Because net neutrality shelters start-ups — which can’t easily pay for fast-line access — from internet giants that can pay, the rules are just about the last bulwark against the complete corporate takeover of much of online life. When the rules go, the internet will still work, but it will look like and feel like something else altogether — a network in which business development deals, rather than innovation, determine what you experience, a network that feels much more like cable TV than the technological Wild West that gave you Napster and Netflix.”
And Amazon — under the new regime, it couldn’t get a start today. This is one reason I wrote that repeal would be bad for startups and innovation.
It’s possible a new FCC could reverse this decision. But that’s a big “if,” contingent on Democrats winning elections, including in 2020, in the face of vote suppression, Russian interference and polarized politics. In the meantime, great damage will be done.
What happens now?
This Week’s Links:
• Is the yield curve signaling recession? | Wall Street Journal
• The dangerous delusion of price stability | Project Syndicate
• Oregon’s statewide housing challenge | Josh Lehner
• Social Security will be solvent for the rest of the century | Kevin Drum
• Thousands will die prematurely if ACA is repealed | Larry Summers
• Two myths about automation | Barry Eichengreen
Today’s Econ Haiku:
The Coins is moving
Where will journalists get booze?
The desk-drawer bottle