By Tyler Bauer
Do you remember net neutrality? Do you remember how we would have to pay for each Google search if net neutrality was repealed? Do you remember how, without net neutrality, we would lose our right to freedom of speech? (Yes, there are actually people who believed this garbage.)
In case you don’t remember (I honestly forget this was ever an issue), net neutrality was the government-mandated requirement that “internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.”
On December 14, 2017, the FCC (shockingly) did a good thing and repealed net neutrality. Naturally, most pundits and media outlets treated this as “the day the internet died.” After the repeal, the ACLU talked about poor connections and prohibited content. According to the ACLU, ISPs might censor viewpoints they disagree with. (Ironically, most of this fear-mongering came from leftists within the ACLU. Leftists have spent all year censoring people. Also, we have no right to internet access, so I don’t know why the ACLU is involved.)
So, why haven’t things changed like we were told they would? The answer is pretty clear. ISPs have incentives to provide good service. If they blocked websites or slowed internet speeds for certain users, they would lose money. Put simply, the free market is regulating the internet. ISPs don’t need the government to keep them in line (after all, net neutrality only began in 2015). The free market, made up of consumers like you and I, does a much better job of keeping ISPs in line. If your ISP decreased the quality of your internet connection or charged you for every email you received, you would find a new ISP. The people who are in charge of ISPs know this, and they know that giving you good service is the best way to stay in business.
Interestingly, internet speeds across the country have risen nearly 40% in the year since net neutrality was repealed. I don’t want to confuse correlation with causation, but I think the timing is more than a coincidence.
Maybe we don’t need the government to regulate our lives after all.