“In the 25 years I’ve been toiling in the mines of tech policy, I’ve developed what I call the Aunt Sadie test. Most of the issues I research and write about are woefully technical, legal, economic and boring; of interest to more and more people here in Silicon Valley as the information economy increasingly becomes the economy, but, still, relatively obscure,” Larry Downes writes for Forbes. “But every now and then, I’ll get a call from a friend I’ll refer to as ‘Aunt Sadie,’ someone who avidly uses technology but is not involved in its creation, marketing, or regulation.”

“Aunt Sadie is politically tuned in, a long-time California progressive who reads plenty of Internet news sites and gets lots of solicitations from various public interest groups who want her to help fund their campaigns to overturn this or support that,” Downes writes. “So when I hear from Aunt Sadie on an issue of tech policy… It means she’s been blasted with overheated and oversimplified media accounts of what is inevitably a complicated question of technology and policy, followed up by feverish pitches from advocacy groups hoping to capitalize on the chaos, shoehorning the issue into often unrelated agenda.”

“It was last week when the FCC announced, to no one’s surprise, that it would be voting in mid-December to undo much if not all of the Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order, a four-hundred page monster that, almost as an afterthought, attempted to codify rules limiting the network management practices of ISPs — the third such effort to do so after courts twice told the agency it had no legal authority to do so,” Downes writes. “The FCC has always referred to these efforts as ‘Open Internet rules.’ But everyone else, for better and for much worse, knows them as ‘net neutrality.'”

“Originally a term of art coined by a law professor to popularize Internet design principles including peered connections and packet-switching algorithms, ‘net neutrality’ has come to stand for, well, pretty much anything, gathering political debris like a snowball rolling down a mountain, until the term has become weirdly partisan and utterly meaningless,” Downes writes. “It’s now ‘about’ everything from free speech to democracy to ‘fairness on the Internet.”

MacDailyNews Take: Hence our consistent use of “so-called” as a prefix for “net neutrality,” especially in regard to the current FCC rules.

“As regular readers of this column know, my technology policy lodestone is simple if not simplistic: the accelerating speed of technological change invariably outweighs the ability of regulators to keep up. The law of unintended consequences takes over quickly and dangerously, often undoing any benefits from interventions entered into with the best of intentions,” Downes writes. “Instead, new technologies and the engineers, entrepreneurs and investors who develop it do a much more effective job of regulating than traditional governments.”

“It should be clear to everyone by now that leaving the specifics of that remedy to the discretion of successive chairmen of the FCC is an untenable solution,” Downes writes. “That’s why I continue to urge Aunt Sadie and everyone else who will listen to bring an end to this wasteful debate by demanding that Congress decide once and for all how broadband Internet should be regulated, and by whom. Congress can — and I believe should — pass specific net neutrality rules, and should settle the question of how enforcement should be split (or not) between the FCC and the FTC.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote over a decade ago, back in August 2006:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

And as we followed up in September 2009:

That we have the same Take over three years later should be telling. Government regulations are not a panacea, neither are the lack thereof. It’s all about striking a proper balance where innovation can thrive while abuses are prevented.

Make that “the same Take over a decade later.”

SEE ALSO:
U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: Killing Obama-era rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ will set the internet free – November 22, 2017
U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: How the FCC can save the open internet – November 21, 2017
U.S. FCC plans total repeal of Obama-era rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 21, 2017
U.S. FCC plans December vote to kill so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 16, 2017
Apple’s call for ‘strong’ net neutrality rules is a hint about the future of its business – September 1, 2017
Apple breaks their silence on ‘net neutrality,’ remains open to alternative sources of legal authority – August 31, 2017
Trump administration gives thumbs up to overturning FCC’s rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – July 19, 2017
]Apple’s deafening silence on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – July 14, 2017
FCC kicks off effort to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – May 18, 2017
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explains why he wants to scrap so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 28, 2017
FCC Chief Ajit Pai develops plans to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 7, 2017
U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
How so-called ‘net neutrality’ will fare under President Trump – January 26, 2017
New FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to take a ‘weed whacker’ to so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 24, 2017
President Trump elevates Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman – January 23, 2017
Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 13, 2017
Under President Trump, Obama ally Google may face policy setbacks, including roll back of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 18, 2016
Jeb Bush on FCC and so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulation: ‘One of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard’ – March 8, 2015
Who loves the FCC’s overreach on so-called ‘net neutrality?’ Telecom lawyers – March 5, 2015