Nevada needs net neutrality

In December, the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorialized as follows:

“It’s been a year since progressives moaned that the Trump administration had killed the internet. It’s certainly a shocker, but it turns out their hysteria was a tad overblown. As Eric Boehm of pointed out this week, last year’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission to end the Obama-era series of internet regulations known as ’net neutrality’ was met with all manner of doomsday prophecies by liberal activists. The move, they promised, would usher in a ’rise in evil cable companies slowing consumers’ internet connections or the creation of an online dystopia where only those who can plop down fat stacks of cash to pay for premium connections can have fun.’ … In hindsight, the warnings are almost laughable.”

The Review-Journal is correct that it’s been a year since the Federal Communications Commission, at the behest of Chair Ajit Pai, repealed fair and equal treatment of all consumers on the web. What is not correct about the editorial is that it has been a year since the change took effect.

You see, Chair Pai, after claiming that it was urgent that the internet be turned over to predatory mega-corporations, then dawdled about getting it done.

The repeal vote was Dec. 14, 2017.

The FCC later said it would take effect April 23, 2018.

Still later, that was delayed until June 11.

So by the time the Review-Journal’s editorial was printed on Dec. 20, net neutrality had been null for a whopping 28 weeks. It’s the editorial, not the earlier predictions, that is laughable, and the editorial reflects a lot of similar claims being made about premature hysteria after less time than a goat pregnancy.

But let’s assume the editorial was correct. It is still a straw man. A year is nothing. And no one predicted doomsday. Some predicted exactly the corporate restraint that unfolded, because none of the telecom firms wanted a fast, negative public reaction that would force Congress and state legislatures to act. Rather, they wanted the new status quo to take effect gradually so that consumers would slowly become accustomed to it. That way, corporate lobbyists will be able to smother with campaign contributions whatever reform efforts come about when the full force of repeal smacks us hard.

The editorial and other such claims are as foolish as, say, liberal complaints by groups like Common Dreams that repeal has not brought all the goodies right wingers had predicted. True, repeal has not spurred investment as Pai and others predicted. But it’s still an early assessment.

The fact remains that state legislatures, including Nevada’s, should continue their work of overruling the federal repeal by adopting statutes that reinstate net neutrality, not because the FCC’s blunder has failed or succeeded but because a democratic net is sound public policy that has been overruled by money. Every legislature that adds its voice to the protection of the internet from money grubbing is needed.

State attorneys general have sued to take back the internet, and California enacted pioneering reinstatement. Nevada has a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both houses. They need to get this done.