Google and its allies have for years argued in favor of sweeping government regulation of the physical networks that comprise the Internet called "net neutrality." They have insisted that a free-market, unregulated Internet will result in Internet service providers blocking web sites, disrupting services, and otherwise wreaking havoc, ignoring the obvious effectiveness of competition to discipline such abuses. They've told us that only benevolent government regulators can protect us from these imagined ills. They don't mention that "net neutrality" would guarantee Google no-cost access to broadband networks that cost billions of dollars to deploy, forcing the full cost to be borne by consumers.
The Federal Communications Commission delivered the Google-favored "net neutrality" regulations in late 2010 but they are likely to be struck down in court. Which could result in the issue shifting to the FTC.
Although many conservatives are cheering the regulatory restraint embodied in the FTC's voluntary enforcement agreement with Google, I'm not no sure. A government that enforces laws lightly or not at all on its friends while pursuing a stifling regulatory agenda against others (see, for example, the spiking of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger on antitrust grounds) is not something to celebrate. A company that aggressively promotes big government politicians and heavy-handed regulation of others is no friend of the free market. I don't like antitrust laws, but this non-enforcement looks more like old-fashioned cronyism than a genuine move in a free-market direction.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.