Most people don't associate the concept of restraint with a federal government that's spending taxpayer dollars at a rate of $7 million a minute and passing so many new regulations that the Code of Federal Regulations is now over 175,000 pages, and growing.
But give credit where credit is due. The Feds have shown remarkable restraint and foresight when it comes to not burdening the Internet with unnecessary regulations and taxes. Ever since the Internet emerged as a consumer tool in the early 1990s, politicians and regulators recognized that the technology was developing in ways they couldn't predict. Instead of legislating yesterday’s Internet, they decided to let it evolve with minimal government intrusion into the Internet we have today.
Washington has held to this "light touch" approach and the benefits speak for themselves: the web has transformed the way we live, work, and play. America is the undisputed Internet creativity capital of the world with companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter being household names the world over.
It is fair to say that everybody wants to see this boundless innovation continue. There are two Internet issues heating up in our nation's capital that may put a grinding halt to that.
The first question is downright scary. Should America change course and impose more regulations on the Internet with the kind of burdensome regulatory restrictions that applied to the Ma Bell era of telephone monopolies?
This could happen if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moves forward with net neutrality and bows to the pressure of some Internet elites who want to reclassify Internet services under Title II of the Communications Act. Title II is a land of smothering utility-style regulation. Banishing the Internet to that innovation-hostile environment would mark the end of America's successful romance with minimal Internet regulation.
The downside for taxpayers and the economy as a whole are stark.
Instead of having an innovative Internet ecosystem where producers are free to innovate and buyers free to choose from boldly competitive offers, we'd have a timid ‘Mother may I’ system propped up by government subsidies and run by bureaucrats at the taxpayer’s expense. And would anyone want to see today's broadband Internet services in an environment where every new product and promotional offer had to be pre-approved by a government panel?