Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia “struck down the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which prohibited Internet providers from blocking or prioritizing Web traffic,” Brian Fung reports for the Washington Post.
Although the ruling created a furor among leftist activists, it is a victory for individual rights.
At issue is whether the owners of an Internet service provider—those who invested their wealth and efforts into creating the business—in fact own their own business. Rather than recognize the rights of business owners to control their own property and contract freely with others, advocates of “net neutrality” regulations call on government to dictate how the businesses may operate.
Fung unwittingly describes the objectionable nature of net neutrality regulations: “At stake here is an Internet provider's ability to charge Web companies such as Netflix for better service, which public interest advocates say may harm consumers.” An Internet service provider’s ability to charge what it sees fit for services it chooses to offer is precisely what is at stake.
Note how, as Fung describes it, “better service . . . may harm consumers.” But Internet service providers have a right to offer premium services if they want, and customers have a right to contract with those who provide them on mutually agreed terms. Consumers who choose to pay more for better service obviously benefit from the arrangement. . . .