The Star Tribune Editorial Board once again takes the bigger-is-better government approach with so-called net neutrality (“Keep the internet fair and open,” Dec. 13). After seeing the resounding “successes” of MNLARS and MNsure, the board must feel it is now time to support another big government takeover, only this time it is the manipulation of our internet services.

The board’s rewrite of history begins in the very first paragraph of the editorial. Describing the rollback of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules as a “pell-mell rush” is ridiculous. The first rumblings in the battle over net neutrality rules began more than a decade ago, when the FCC was asked to classify cable broadband services as “telecommunications services.”

The FCC refused to do so, affirming the classification of internet service providers (ISPs) as lightly regulated information services, a ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. This classification was later applied to other delivery modes, including internet service over wireless and traditional telephone networks.

It’s hard to argue that the light regulatory approach did not work. During the period it was in effect, our internet economy grew from nothing to 6 percent of our country’s GDP.

Despite virtually no evidence of an actual threat to our free and open internet, net neutrality proponents cleverly led a misleading public relations campaign. They duped millions into believing that the internet was under an existential threat. Their goal was to scare you into thinking ISPs would create the equivalent of internet toll roads or outright roadblocks, relegating those who could not afford to pay to the internet version of rush-hour gridlock.

This is a lie. The Obama administration’s FCC, when implementing its rules in 2015, presented absolutely no evidence that such a disruption had or would ever occur without net neutrality rules.

In fact, one economic study filed with the FCC concluded that broadband investment has decreased  $35 billion in each of the last two years since the issuance of the 2015 net neutrality order. Reclassifying ISPs as a highly regulated utility was a nuclear option, stifling private investment. The Obama FCC attempted to abolish 80 years of public utility regulation in its biased order.

And who benefited the most from this? Obama-friendly companies, such as Facebook, who are huge donors to liberals around the nation. It is also important to note that this was first adopted in 2015 by the Obama administration FCC without any congressional approval. None.

So why does the Editorial Board support something so antithetical to free-market solutions? My only guess is that it is a farewell gift to the chief proponent of net neutrality: the disgraced and soon-to-be ex-Sen. Al Franken. Isn’t that enough to make you dislike this whole net neutrality fraud?

 

David Osmek, R-Mound, is a member of the Minnesota Senate.