Letter to the Editor: The Real Net Neutrality Debate

Published November 9, 2009

The following letter to the editor was published in the Nov. 9, 2009 edition of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Your Nov. 3 editorial, “Greed shouldn’t slow Internet innovation,” is clever, but you do your readers a disservice by absurdly framing net neutrality as a case of greedy corporations exploiting defenseless Internet consumers.

The debate over net neutrality hinges on a simple question: Should individuals making choices in a free market determine Internet policy, or shall bureaucrats micromanage such a complex technical and economic system through ad hoc decisions in Washington?

Your argument for the latter would be on more solid footing if you did not have to set up hypothetical scenarios of Internet service providers harming consumers. Any provider “looking for a way to make another buck” (cue the scary music) would find fewer bucks to be made if it decided to degrade or restrict access to Jon Stewart in favor of “Ugly Betty.” The market will punish such noxious business practices without what Sen. John McCain rightly calls a “government takeover of the Internet.”

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