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Reason Foundation

The Internet Is Not Neutral (and No Law Can Make It So)

Why net neutrality will stifle innovation and competition
Policy Study 375

Steven Titch
May 28, 2009

The Internet is a complete success story by almost all accounts. More people have more access to more information and connections with other people than ever before. And all of this happened without government regulation or control. Yet, net neutrality proponents claim the Internet is in danger. They say Congress needs to pass legislation regulating the way Web content flows through networks and government must require cable companies and Internet service providers to treat all customers and content alike. A new Reason Foundation study, however, finds net neutrality would stifle the very innovation that has allowed the Web to grow so quickly and become such a powerful, integral part of our lives.

The Reason study says to get the most out of the Internet we should promote competition, not neutrality. Network neutrality proponents fear that companies will risk alienating their customers by blocking websites, directing traffic only to powerful corporate Websites, and charge prices that drive bloggers and casual Internet users out of the market. But, according to the study, this speculation is unfounded and doesn’t reflect market realities that companies must fight to keep their customers by delivering the services (and Websites) that they want at prices they can afford.

Net neutrality would actually punish companies that seek to improve or optimize their networks or Internet offerings, creating red tape and strangling future advancements.

“Net Neutrality would open the door to unprecedented government intervention in all aspects of the Internet,” said Steven Titch, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and author of the study.  “Placing regulations and legal limits on the Internet won’t bring neutrality, it will stagnate the Web’s remarkable growth. The Internet has been doing splendidly without government, why on earth would we want them involved now?”


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