Net neutrality is a good thing, but its demise won’t be the apocalyptic threshold that many “Chicken Littles” prognosticate. There are just too many money-grubbing attorneys chomping at the bit for a juicy class-action suit. Then too, there is also the US Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Protections Bureau on deck to intervene if the existing laws and court rulings are violated.
Around 100 years ago, the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910 legislatively declared telecommunication networks to be common carriers subject to Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce. In 1974, MCI sued AT&T in federal court for violating Mann-Elkins after Illinois Bell (at the time a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T) severed all of MCI’s network interconnections. MCI won a $1.8 billion judgement (which was upheld, though reduced, in 1983 by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals). But ever since the 1970s, telecommunication providers cannot (lawfully) deny network access to a party that is willing and able to pay for the service nor can telecommunication providers charge dissimilar access rates to competitors. In fact, MCI’s initial 1974 victory over AT&T was the very thing that led to the federal government’s antitrust action that resulted in AT&T’s unprecedented breakup. Continue reading “The End of Net Neutrality Won’t Be An Apocalypse”