The panic that has surrounded the rightful death of Net Neutrality has been a fascinating one to watch, but like most mob driven panic attacks, there’s little or nothing to fear.
That’s exactly what former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell kept trying to tell MSNBC’s Ali Velshi during his segment. McDowell kept attempting to educate Velshi on the fact that Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 wasn’t even around till February 2015.
This didn’t phase Velshi, who claimed that Net Neutrality’s repeal would freeze startups out of the internet game. McDowell dismissed the idea, quoting laws that have been on the books for a while that make that an impossibility.
“So, you have the Federal Trade Commission Act, for instance, you have the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act,” McDowell said. “Those are three very powerful federal statutes that kept the internet open and free prior to February of 2015.”
McDowell continued by pointing out that Net Neutrality slowed growth, and actually made it harder for startups to improve the internet with new technologies.
“What Title II [net neutrality] has done, in the wireless space anyway, is reduce investment in the past two years by 18 percent,” he continued. “We need about $300 billion over the next decade to build out [5G] networks and every independent Wall Street analyst I’ve spoken with says…the 1,000 requirements of Title II has created tremendous uncertainty.”
Clearly seeing he was on the losing end of the argument, Velshi switched gears and brought up a scenario where Facebook essentially purchases preferential treatment from internet service providers, making the speeds of other companies slower unless they can pay. According to Velshi, this would essentially shut down smaller companies who won’t have the power of Facebook.
But McDowell killed that idea immediately by once again going to the lawbooks.
“Section I and Section II of Sherman Act and Section III of Clayton Act…you just triggered all three of those sections,” McDowell smoothly responded. “That would be an anti-trust violation…that was against the law before February 2015 and it will be against the laws of today.”
McDowell added that Title II actually helped the bigger corporations keep their thumbs on the smaller startups.
Velshi did not appreciate being on the losing end of the mob’s talking points, and chastised McDowell for using laws and facts to argue his point instead of feelings and scenarios.
“Look, I just feel like we’re having a really unfair conversation here, I’m trying to have a conversation on the merits of the principle of unintended consequences,” Velshi whined. “And you’re dropping a lot of legal-ese.”
“The legal-ese is the merits though, Ali,” McDowell corrected. “That’s what’s at play here, and maybe you haven’t read these laws.”
“I’m very familiar with net neutrality,” Velshi snapped. “I’m really not that familiar with being condescended to.”
Velshi kept trying to make a “broader” argument about scenarios and principles, which McDowell continued to shut down with facts, laws, and historical patterns. This just further frustrated the already nettled MSNBC host.
“You’ve come to this show ready for an argument that I’m not giving you!” Velshi snapped.
“Okay so you’re talking about consumers and entrepreneurs and discrimination of your own products, like a Comcast provider?” said McDowell repeating Velshi’s argument back to him.
“That’s NOT what I’m talking about!” snapped Velshi…even though that’s exactly what he was talking about. “I’m saying that if someone has an advantage in streaming their content over the internet…because they got the money to buy better…access, then the incumbent is favored over the startup, that’s the only point I wanted to make!”
“And that would be illegal, that’s the point I’m making,” McDowell responded. “It has been a for a long time and will be going forward, so it’s good news.”
“Sorry it’s good news,” said McDowell of the repeal of Net Neutrality.
Somewhere, McDowell heard the words “FINISH HIM!”
“I know it’s good clickbait to say the internet is being destroyed and it’s not,” said McDowell with a conversation ending blow.
(h/t: Daily Caller)