Letter to the Editor: Regulatory Regime Stifles Innovation

Published November 12, 2009

The following letter to the editor was published in the Nov. 12, 2009 edition of The Honolulu Advertiser.

Your Nov. 4 editorial “An open Internet depends on Net neutrality” mentions almost in passing the “fear” that strict Net neutrality rules might harm innovation and investment in wireless and wired Internet technology. That fear is justified and deserves better than your quick dismissal.

For years, a stream of witnesses has testified to the Federal Communications Commission that setting up an ad hoc regulatory regime to enforce Net neutrality will stifle the current flow of tens of billions annually in Internet technology. And before such concerns are dismissed as the typical whining by Big Internet, readers should know that no fewer than six dozen House Democrats sent a letter to the FCC echoing the same concerns.

Your editorial could cite fewer than a handful of examples of “abuse” that Net neutrality enforced by the FCC would remedy — all of which were corrected by a combination of market pressures and the FCC’s current regulatory power. With so much at stake, handing ultimate control of the Internet economy to the federal government should not rest on such a thin reed.

James G. Lakely
Co-director, Center on Digital Economy
The Heartland Institute
Chicago, IL