Netflix's Contribution to the Net Neutrality Big Lie

Seton Motley
Posted: Mar 28, 2016 12:12 PM
Netflix's Contribution to the Net Neutrality Big Lie

Net Neutrality is a really stupid, anti-capitalism policy that the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally (and likely illegally) jammed down our throats in February 2015.

Uber-huge-bandwidth-hog online-video-streaming-company Netflix has long been a very vocal proponent of Network Neutrality. About which Netflix said: “The net neutrality debate is about who picks winners and losers online: Internet service providers or consumers. Today, the FCC settled it: Consumers win.”

Except consumers don’t win. They rarely do when government gets (exponentially) bigger. Of course uber-huge-bandwidth-hog-company Netflix likes Net Neutrality because it outlaws their being charged for being an uber-huge-bandwidth-hog-company.

No matter how much data Netflix uses - and they use a ton - Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot charge them a dime. Which leaves We the Consumers picking up Netflix’s tab in the form of much higher monthly ISP charges. That’s consumers-augmenting-Netflix-profits, which is certainly a win for Netflix. For We the Consumers? Not so much.

And lest we forget: “Netflix…was one of the lead proponents of…a bright-line prohibition on throttling online traffic by broadband providers.”

With all of this Netflix Net Neutrality inanity in mind, this story, which came out late last week, was a bit of news:

Netflix Has Been Secretly Slowing Down Your Videos for the Past Five Years: “Netflix and its allies last year won the fight over Net Neutrality, arguing that without federal protections Internet service providers could throttle traffic to individuals and companies that didn't pay for access to Internet fast lanes.”

Get that? Internet throttling by ISPs? Cataclysmic. But when non-ISP Netflix does it? No problem.

Not Neutrality: The Netflix Scandal That Isn’t: “(W)hatever it is, it’s not a Net Neutrality violation. Plain and simple. Anyone who tells you that it is — or that this practice undermines the case for Net Neutrality rules — is either in the business of misleading you, woefully ignorant of the law, or both.”

Sadly, that is correct. Because the FCC’s huge power grab doesn’t apply to “edge providers” like Netflix. Only ISPs are subject to this heinous onerousness: “ISPs could receive a hefty fine under the net neutrality rules for similar practices, but Netflix faces no such danger, at least not for the throttling itself. The net neutrality rules only apply to ISPs…, not to companies…like Netflix or Google Inc.”

How’s that for unequal protection before the law? Except this isn’t law - it’s agency regulatory fiat. We’re already way off the constitutional map.

Pro-Net Neutrality zealots have been pushing their terrible idea for more than a decade. Knowing what we now know about Netflix - much of those shoves along the way may require reexamination.

Verizon, Netflix Continue Net Neutrality War of Words (July 2014): “In a memo to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, said ‘Our focus on strong net neutrality, including interconnection, is about preventing large ISPs from holding our joint customers hostage with poor performance…’”

Get that? Netflix’s accusation that Verizon was slowing down their videos was likely a key component in the FCC’s Net Neutrality imposition decisions even months later. And it was all a lie. Verizon wasn't “holding…joint customers hostage” - Netflix was.

But of course Netflix lied. Because Net Neutrality is a giant lie. So getting it rammed down upon us required a lot of additional lies all along the way.

These lies are slowly becoming unraveled. Here’s to hoping the FCC’s Net Neutrality power grab disintegrates along with it.