Diary

Net Neutrality: Stop theorizing and actually do something.

My assumptions:

  1. You oppose the concept of net neutrality.
  2. You’d like to do something to prevent it from being codified as FCC policy and/or in federal legislation.
  3. You realize that sitting around theorizing about how mean and ugly the boogeyman is, is fruitless, and you want to spend your time on a more results oriented approach.

Preparation.

Net neutrality is an unnecessary intrusion by government into a vibrant and active market where growth and innovation have been and continue to be the norm. You may be opposed to it because you believe in limited government, and that’s a valid and worthy position. But an appeal to limited government is not the only argument you should have on hand. You need to prepare yourself with arguments and facts that you can calmly marshal and use to persuade people when the opportunity to discuss net neutrality comes up, arguments that can be persuasive even with those persons for whom limited government is a lower priority.

Here are three excellent sources of information that you should consume in preparation for making a logical and consistent case against net neutrality:

  • The Cato Institute has been speaking out against net neutrality at least since 2004. You can get the feed of their net neutrality related posts here. Among other information, they provide great ammunition for explaining why market forces and customers will work naturally to prevent network carriers from arbitrarily blocking or otherwise impeding access to popular online services, which is the major concern you will encounter in persons you are seeking to sway. A lot of your success will depend on your ability to explain how net neutrality advocates are misaddressing this concern.
  • The American Consumer Institute covers net neutrality as an issue through their feed here. If you read this recent publication from them, you can learn some of the ways in which net neutrality will burden consumers with negative (some might say, unintended) consequences.
  • The Phoenix Centerseeks to demonstrate that consumer welfare is best maximized by promoting free markets, competition, and individual freedom and liberty” and they have written regarding net neutrality since 2006. While their website isn’t as convenient to navigate as the other two, the real gems you’ll find here are the papers written in direct response to arguments made by net neutrality advocates. This is one of the best sources you will have for seeing how a serious policy debater addresses and deflates common arguments for net neutrality. For examples, see here and more recently here.

Those sources (and I encourage you to provide others in comments) will get you well on your way to being able to explain why government mandated net neutrality is a net negative for American citizens.

Action.

You need to proactively make your opinion known, both to government officials and to corporations. The former will make the decision on whether to intrude or not and they need to hear what you think. But those corporations will also be making their case to the same government, a government far too willing to wheel and deal rather than heed constitutional limits and avoid exercising power. The case those corporations make will be dictated by what is best for their shareholders (i.e. many of your fellow American citizens and quite possibly, yourself) but successful companies balance that with the need to delight their customers, especially, their paying customers.

One place you may be able to persuade people are on politically neutral forums you may frequent but where technical topics of general interest come up. Hobbyist forums? Professional associations or organizations that you are a member of? Look for opportunities to respond, particularly when someone complains about a network carrier company like Comcast and insinuates that net neutrality is needed to counter whatever complaint they have.

I’ve never held a great deal of promise for boycotts, but if you are a customer of any of the following companies (and even if you aren’t), all of which are publicly advocating for net neutrality and are signatories to a recent letter of support for net neutrality sent to the FCC chairman, then I recommend you write to them, state one or two clear points explaining why you are opposed to net neutrality and why you believe (using facts and arguments from the sources above) it will result in a diminished experience for yourself as an Internet user and/or as a direct customer of the company, and urge them to cease their request for government intervention. You will make a sharper case if you can do some additional research beforehand and specifically name any of their competitors who you know oppose net neutrality and to whom you are willing to take your business. If you are an investor (if uncertain, you could check with your mutual fund brokerage, financial adviser, or other source of information regarding your portfolio), be sure and make a note of that in the letter as well.

To make it easier for you, we close with a list of all aforementioned signatory companies with links to either an investor relations page or a contact page. My advice is to write a letter, if possible, in addition to using email and/or an online contact form.

Do you use any of the following companies? Twitter? Amazon? Flickr? OpenDNS? Then you’re a customer of a company that is publicly advocating for net neutrality and you should let them know why you disagree with them in a well argued, persuasive manner:

Amazon.com

CBeyond

Craigslist

Digg

eBay, Inc.

EchoStar Corporation

Expedia

Facebook

Flickr

Google Inc.

IAC

LinkedIn

Meetup

Mozilla Corporation

OpenDNS

Skype

Sony Electronics

TiVo Inc.

Twitter

Vuze, Inc.

XO Communications

YouTube

Zynga