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Net neutrality

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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2015 Category: Technology
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,194 times Debate No: 71349
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




should be a good debate.


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Internet neutrality is The principle that internet service providers and the government should treat all data on the website equally, with the exception of anything illegal like child porn. That means companies can't slow down a website like for any reason or favor one website over another. How ISPs would have you believe is that without this rule that they would speed up websites making them faster for everyone. However in practice how this works is that ISPs slow down everyone then demand that companies pay a bribe to make the internet go the same speed it used to. Let's take Hulu and Netflix. Without net neutrality GCI for example would slow them both down then demand they pay say One million dollars to be in the so called "fast lane" which is really what they had before. If Netflix payed the bribe and Hulu didn't they would slow Hulu and Netflix would have a unfair advantage. They could keep threatening Netflix and force them to pay more and more. It would also make it impossible for start up companies to go anywhere because they would be to slow because they can't pay the bribe so start up businesses couldn't be successful.

For more info check out this video my CGP grey's video on the subject.


== Definitions ==

Net neutrality: "the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication."

Antitrust laws: "a collection of federal and state government laws, which regulates the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers ... restrict the formation of cartels and prohibit other collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade ... restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations which could substantially lessen competition ... [and] prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power."

== Rebuttal ==

Pro claims that net neutrality is necessary to stop ISPs from slowing down the Internet. But the reality is much different. ISPs could only do that if there were no competition. That means they'd have to collude with each other, or have a monopoly (and abuse that monopoly power). Both of those are illegal under current antitrust laws (Section 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act). So net neutrality isn't necessary to stop ISPs from slowing down the Internet. If an ISP did slow down the Internet while charging monopoly prices, another company would provide faster service at a competitive price, and consumers would buy their Internet from the company providing faster service at a competitive price. That's how a free market works. We don't neet net neutrality laws to regulate an area that's already regulated by antitrust laws.

== Argument ==

The net neutrality debate turns on the idea that there are bottlenecks on the Internet which allow network owners to exercise market power. For example, if a local company has a monopoly in Internet access and blocks subscribers from using an Internet phone service offered by a rival company, that could harm both competition and consumers. The question is whether we should require net neutrality, or whether we should regulate that sort of anticompetitive practice through other means (i.e. antitrust laws).

The problem with requiring net neutrality is that net neutrality doesn't distinguish between procompetitive discrimination and anticompetitive discrimination. Under a net neutrality regime, networks can't favor traffic from a patient's heart monitor over traffic delivering a music download. Or worse, networks can't restrict downright harmful traffic, such as viruses, worms, and spam. Instead, all Internet traffic must be treated equally. Antitrust laws, on the other hand, allow procompetitive discrimination while also prohibiting anticompetitive discrimination.

(1) An unregulated Internet is better than a regulated Internet.

The Internet has always been shaped by intense competition and rampant growth. Entrepreneurs have had the latitude to experiment with new and different business models. And as a result, in the absence of heavy government regulation, and "due in large part to private investment and market-driven innovation, broadband in America has improved considerably in the last decade. More Americans are online at faster speeds than ever before." [1]

Rigid net neutrality laws would change that. Instead of allowing the free market to guide investment dollars where needed, and allowing businesses to act based on the best use of scarce resources like bandwidth, the government would dictate many of these decisions, chilling competition, growth, and innovation.

(2) Net neutrality doesn't distinguish between procompetitive and anticompetitive practices.

Entrepreneurs often experiment with new and different business models -- e.g. prioritizing network traffic -- to lower prices and improve customer experience. Lariat Wireless, for example, a small internet service provider ("ISP") in Wyoming, forbids its customers from operating servers, to reduce network congestion and improve the overall experience for their users. Brett Glass, the CEO, explains: "most Internet users would not know what a server was if it bit them, and they have no problem uploading content to a Web site such as YouTube for distribution. This means customers that do need to operate a server could obtain that capability by paying a bit more to cover the additional cost." Under a net neutrality law, however, Lariat Wireless would be forced to shift "everyone to the more expensive plan. We will therefore be less competitive, offer less value to consumers and especially less value to economically disadvantaged ones." [2]

Unregulated markets give entrepreneurs the latitude to experiment as such, producing procompetitive outcomes: more options, lower prices, and better quality services. But a net neutrality requirement would categorically condemn all discriminatory practices, without distinguishing the good, procompetitive ones from the bad, anticompetitive ones.

(3) Current antitrust laws are enough to protect consumers and competition.

Antitrust laws protect consumers from anticompetitive business practices -- monopolization, collusion, price-fixing, etc. Under these laws, courts ask whether there's been actual harm to consumers or competition before condemning a business practice. If there's been a showing of harm to consumers or competition, then the company harming the consumer or competition faces heavy fines and even prison. This approach is more nuanced, fact-based, and flexible, and it's better for the economy because it gives entrepreneurs latitude to experiment.

Pro says that ISPs could slow down the Internet and force content providers to pay for so-called "fast lanes." But if that actually harms competition or consumers, it's already illegal under current antitrust laws. An FCC Commissioner, Robert McDowell, even notes that "in the almost nine years since [net neutrality] fears were first sewn, net regulation lobbyists can point to fewer than a handful of cases of alleged misconduct, out of an infinite number of Internet communications. All those cases were resolved in favor of consumers under current law." [3] There is simply no reason to prefer displacing the antitrust laws -- flexible, nuanced, fact-based enforcement -- with a rigid net neutrality regime.

[3] In re Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Indus. Practices, 25 FCC Rcd. 17,905 (2010)
Debate Round No. 2


Ok you say ISPs wouldn't slow down websites because in a free market people wouldn't buy their service and his is only a valid argument if they have a monopoly or talk to other companies. That would be true expect for one problem in many places you only have one option. In many places you only have Comcast or you only have time Warner. Also these companies do talk to each other. In fact these to companies have talk about which territory they get plus Comcast bought out Time Warner so people often only do have one option. You say it's against the law so they won't do it. Well A. people do nothing about because they are bought off and B. there are many loopholes.

Then you say another problem is if it's pro or anti competitive discrimination. Good there should be no discrimination unless the contest is illegal.

Your next argument is if we put in net neutrality laws it would kill competition and investments. You're problem is net neutrality isn't knew the internet has been that way for years and the internet is great I don't want to change it you want to. Also net neutrality doesn't kill competition but ISPs blocking competitors does.

I not bothering with you're last two because the first I already addressed and the other one is based on the idea net neutrality doesn't already exist which it has for years.


Pro seems to think we've had net neutrality for years. But that is simply untrue. The entire controversy surrounding net neutrality concerns proposed laws, not laws that already exist. [4] Unless Pro can cite a single net neutrality law that's existed for years, his entire argument falls apart.

The reality is that we've never had net neutrality and the Internet has not only been fun but grown at an incredible pace. As PayPal founder Peter Thiel notes, "[n]et neutrality has not been necessary to date. I don"t see any reason why it"s suddenly become important, when the Internet has functioned quite well for the past 15 years without it ... Government attempts to regulate technology have been extraordinarily counterproductive in the past." [5]


Pro says "in many places you only have one [ISP] option." That's true, but the big companies aren't to blame. Local governments are the problem. "Before building out new networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must negotiate with local governments for access to publicly owned 'rights of way' so they can place their wires above and below both public and private property. ISPs also need 'pole attachment' contracts with public utilities so they can rent space on utility poles for above-ground wires, or in ducts and conduits for wires laid underground." [6] The result: "Local governments and their public utilities charge ISPs far more than these things actually cost." [6]

ISPs try to enter new areas all the time. The problem is that entry costs -- not the laying wires part but the costs of negotiating with local governments -- are extremely high. That's something neither net neutrality nor antitrust laws will change. The irony of Pro's position is that it asks for MORE government regulation when government is ALREADY the biggest obstacle preventing competition among ISPs. The solution is getting local governments to allow the free market to do its thing. That's how you get more competition among ISPs, which in turn lowers prices.


Pro claims that "people do nothing because they are bought off" and "there are many loopholes." But that's also not true. Pro gives no source for his claims because the claims are bunk. ISPs aren't bribing anyone. I'm not even sure who they'd bribe, but note that the only way bribes work is under a regulatory scheme, which is what Pro supports. I'm the one arguing that we let the free market do its thing, which means bribes wouldn't help anyone. As for loopholes, again I have no idea what Pro's talking about.

If by loopholes, Pro's referring to the antitrust laws, there aren't really any loopholes in the law. You either show harm to consumers or competition, or you don't show harm to consumers or competition. It's economics all the way down. If you show harm, it's illegal. That's how the laws work. So if an ISP has a monopoly on providing broadband, and it charges monopoly prices for "fast-lanes," they'd be found liable and/or guilty under current antitrust laws. There's no need to build a rigid regulatory scheme on top of that.


No one would propose that the U.S. Postal Service be prohibited from offering Express Mail because a "fast lane" mail service is "unfair," "undemocratic," or "bad for the economy." Yet that's exactly what net neutrality would do for Internet services. In a free and open market, incentives exist to create premium services, with faster, guaranteed delivery quality, for things like medical monitoring which require higher reliability. Of course, suppliers could be expected to charge higher prices for these premium services. Such discrimination is procompetitive. Blocking premium services in the name of neutrality, on the other hand, can have the unintended consequence of blocking premium services from which consumers could benefit. ATT has even said that under a net neutrality regime, they'd have no incentive to invest in broadband infrastructure. The reality is that net neutrality chokes broadband competition, because it prevents experimentation in business models and pricing.

We don't need net neutrality because the antitrust laws already protect consumers and competition from anticompetitive discrimination on the Internet. Broadband providers can't do anything that would hurt consumers or competition. If they do, it means they have monopoly power (because you can't impose monopoly prices without monopoly power, as consumers would just buy your service from your competitors). And if they have monopoly power and abuse that power (by extracting monopoly rents), they're already doing something illegal under current antitrust laws.

Which is why FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has said that the perceived threats from ISPs to deceive consumers, degrade content, or disfavor the content that they don"t like are non-existent: "The evidence of these continuing threats? There is none; it"s all anecdote, hypothesis, and hysteria. A small ISP in North Carolina allegedly blocked VoIP calls a decade ago. Comcast capped BitTorrent traffic to ease upload congestion eight years ago. Apple introduced Facetime over Wi-Fi first, cellular networks later. Examples this picayune and stale aren't enough to tell a coherent story about net neutrality. The bogeyman never had it so easy." [7] ISPs don't slow the Internet down in a free market; they compete with each other, which creates incentives to speed the Internet up. Net neutrality would choke that competition.

Debate Round No. 3


First you again say Net neutrality is new and the internet is awesome and don't change it. Again Net neutrality has always existed. Google it. It hasn't been a law it has been a founding principle of the internet. If you would do research for 5 minutes and stopped listening to Alex Jones you would know that.

Then You say it's true in many places you only have one ISP but that's not there fault. You just proved my point it doesn't matter who's fault it is it still happens and kills you're free market answer.

Then you say I want government regulation. To a very limited extent yes. I want them to say you can't discriminate data because you don't like it , or they aren't paying you a bribe, or because it competes with them.

Next you say me claiming they buy people off and that there are loopholes are unfounded. Well they can buy off politicians to not pass laws that limit them like oil companies do. As for loopholes You do a deal. For example pretend in the state of Texas there are two companies. A and B you're argument is they will compete with each other for the consumers. In reality they make a deal to be the only ISP in a city so people have to buy from them.

Next you say it's bad for the economy. No it's good for the economy in fact it's good for free market capitalism which you are in favor of. Because people can start businesses and offer goods for a lower price without being blocked unfairly or having to pay a huge bribe which hurts there business. Without net neutrality Amazon and Ebay could pay AT&T to block other online shopping sites which kills competition. Then you say it prevents internet experimentation no it doesn't as it helps the free market as I just explained.

Then you mention one of the guys on the FCC saying the threat of companies blocking content is not a problem. Because he was being payed my Version and Comcast again google it.

Lastly you mention all these things that where invented and that's why Net neutrality is bad. But that couldn't have happened without net neutrality because it could have been blocked from being advertised. Just remember this all came around with Net neutrality in place.

In the end though this debate doesn't matter. The FCC passed net neutrality. The consumers won and the internet is better off for it.


Pro's entire argument reduces to a bunch of unsubstantiated assertions, with no support in any factual evidence. The lack of factual evidence is telling, because the simple truth is that there isn't any factual evidence to support Pro's assertions.

For example, Pro continues to assert that "net neutrality has always existed." But as I've said previously, that's simply untrue. Pro said to "google it," so I did, and this is what I found: "Until 2015, there were no clear legal restrictions against practices impeding net neutrality."

Pro says that "without net neutrality Amazon and Ebay could pay AT&T to block other online shopping sites which kills competition." But as I've already explained multiple times, Amazon and EBay can't do that. Current antitrust laws already make that illegal, so further regulations on top of the antitrust laws aren't necessary.

Pro also states: "Then you mention one of the guys on the FCC saying the threat of companies blocking content is not a problem. Because he was being payed my Version and Comcast again google it." But that's also completely unsubstantiated. Just because someone opposes net neutrality doesn't mean they're paid by big ISPs. And even if they were, that doesn't mean they're wrong. Pro keeps saying to Google things that are simply false.

Pro also drops all of my antitrust arguments. He doesn't even mention the word antitrust once in his argument. He just wants to pretend that the antitrust laws don't exist. But of course, they do. So net neutrality regulations are simply not necessary. Pro hasn't addressed that argument.
Debate Round No. 4


Ok For the last time I never said Net Neutrality. (which I'm now just going to say NN for) has been a law. I said I was a founding principle of the internet. If in your last round you claim I said it was a law you're either intentionally using a straw man or your an idiot.

Then you say ebay and amazon couldn't pay to have other online shopping sites block because of anti-trust laws. Also in your final paragraph you say I never addressed you anti-trust argument. Yes I did earlier I just got tired of doing it every round. I will say it again. Anti-trust laws don't work because regulation of ISP's are horrible.

Then you say that FCC guy wasn't payed by ISP's and even if he does it doesn't matter.

1. Yes he was funded by version
2. You would trust people who are getting payed by people to talk their side. So if Bud light payed a scientist to say you should drink 10,000 of these every year because it's super good for you you would trust him? If you say no same principle applies here.

And I already addressed you're final paragraph.

Like I said either way NN passed the FCC. I'm happy about it. The internet will continue to be a awesome place.

One more thing. You mentioned government regulation like it should never exist. However in some situations it should be there. You're for affirmative action on your big issues page. Government regulation. Am I saying NN is as important as minorities having equal rights, no. However in some situations government should have regulations.


To conclude, I'll do a short rebuttal, and then I'll do a recap of the whole debate.

== Rebuttal ==

(1) Pro says that net neutrality was a "founding principle" of the Internet. First, Pro's simply wrong: "net neutrality" is a recent phrase, coined by Tim Wu in 2003. [1] Second, Pro offers no source for his claim, so it's unreliable (and again, wrong). Third, even if Pro's right that net neutrality is a "founding principle," that's irrelevant to this debate. The issue we're debating is whether to require net neutrality, or whether to allow entrepreneurs to experiment (e.g. Lariat Wireless, discussed in Round 2 and dropped by Pro).

(2) Pro says antitrust laws "don't work because regulation of ISPs are horrible." But that makes no sense. Regulations aren't relevant to how the antitrust laws work. Antitrust laws apply in the absence of regulations. Antitrust laws prevent Amazon from blocking other online sites because the antitrust laws explicitly prohibit the "attempt to monopolize" and the "abuse of monopoly power." There's no other way to characterize "paying to block your competitors" than an "abuse of monopoly power" or an "attempt to monopolize." Both are illegal under our antitrust laws.

(3) Pro continues to assert that the "FCC guy" was "funded by version," but he provides no source for that claim. There's no reason to think FCC commissioners are funded by ISPs.

(4) Pro says the FCC passed net neutrality rules. Yes, that's true. But that's also completely irrelevant to the debate, which is about whether there should be net neutrality laws, not whether there exist any net neutrality laws. And if the debate's about whether there exists net neutrality laws, then Pro still loses because the FCC rules haven't gone into effect yet, they're being challenged in the courts (and the last couple net neutrality rules the FCC approved were struck down by courts), and a change in administration could reverse the FCC's rule.

(5) I agree with Pro that government should regulate some things, including some aspects of telecommunications. But there's no need to regulate net neutrality.

== Recap ==

The argument against net neutrality is simple: net neutrality doesn't distinguish procompetitive discrimination from anticompetitive discrimination. Pro never challenged that argument. Instead, he claims that net neutrality laws are necessary to prevent anticompetitive discrimination. But as I explained throughout the debate, that's simply untrue. Our antitrust laws -- which have developed over the past 100 years -- are enough to protect consumers and competition from anticompetitive discrimination. The antitrust laws also allow entrepreneurs like Lariat Wireless (see Round 2) to experiment with procompetitive forms of data discrimination. The idea is to cater to the consumer, and in doing so, lower prices. The net result is that more people can get online than if we had a rigid net neutrality law, because prices are lower. It also leads to creative business models, which spurts growth and innovation.

Pro never contests the substance of my argument. His only points throughout the debate focus on showing that ISPs can harm consumers and competition in the absence of net neutrality. But Pro offered no sourcing for any of his claims, even though I asked multiple times. The reason is because most of his claims aren't true. Moreover, I showed throughout the debate that Pro's wrong, because the antitrust laws already -- and the keyword there is "already" -- stop ISPs from harming consumers and competition. Pro never argues otherwise. Thus, there's simply no reason to displace our antitrust laws, which are flexible and fact-based, with a rigid net neutrality law that doesn't distinguish the procompetitive from the anticompetitive.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by FourTrouble 3 years ago
Is first round just for acceptance?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RainbowDash52 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's only source was a video, which he didn't even quote from. "google it" is not a substitute for sources. Con on the other hand, backed up his arguments with sources