The Internet: one of the few unregulated industries left. Well, probably not for long. The FCC may pass a net neutrality law as soon as this Christmas.
Why would the government want to regulate the internet? According to the Wall Street Journal,
There’s a growing claim that “monopolies”-dominant firms such as Google and Facebook- rule the web.
But these websites are not really monopolies. They are just the most successful sites in their respective niches.
Facebook has social-media competitors, Google was dismissed for daring to compete in search with companies such as AltaVista, and Apple even has competitors for the iPad tablet.
The Internet is one of the most competition friendly industries out there. Virtually anyone with a computer can create his own website for little to no cost. If history is any guide, regulating the internet will promote monopolies, not prevent them. Consider these examples:
Telephone. In 1913, the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. asked the federal government to regulate it, in the hopes of creating a monopoly on long-distance service that would let it over time crush local independent providers. With the slogan of "One system, one policy, universal service," AT&T got government-set rates that ensured it strong rates of return for decades while limiting competitors...AT&T wasn't broken up until 1984.
Radio. In the 1920s, radio was an open medium of unrestricted, competitive communications...by the late 1920s, the Federal Radio Commission—later renamed the Federal Communications Commission—decided that large networks such as NBC provided better service, at one point issuing an order calling for 164 small stations to be abolished. In the 1940s, AM radio stations got the FCC to limit frequencies for upstart FM stations, suppressing competition until the 1980s.
Television … In the 1960s, the FCC barred cable television from the largest 100 U.S. cities, a policy that was reversed during the Nixon administration.
Too bad they reversed it. The monopoly helped me make more money in broadcast TV. Of course, the monopoly also would have killed off my current job. When will the FCC learn? Wall Street Journal Op-ed columnist Gordon Crovitz sums it up perfectly:
The greater threat to freedom on the Web would be for the government to decide which companies are good and which need to be broken up or punished…So long as the government stays out of the way, the internet can stay free.
Back off FCC. Don’t just do something, stand there.