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May 03, 2006

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Cam Beck

This is not an issue concerning the first amendment, which is a restriction on Congressional interference with speech, religion, and a few other things, but it is an issue antitrust issue, which may be covered by the Sherman Antitrust Act or an amendment to it.

The legislation itself is overkill, and we should all be very selective in what we ask Congress to do, for once we cede authority to Congress over a domain of our lives, they seldom if ever relinquish it willingly.

Before we start assuming that Internet providers will be stupid enough to actually restrict our access in this manner, we should first consider disclosure requirements and protecting the right of people to get out of ISP contracts that for one reason or another fail to live up to the consumer's expectations. And people should be able to do it without filling out five types of forms in triplicate and filing a court brief. For companies that engage in this behavior, people should be allowed out of contracts, no questions asked. This alone should be incentive enough for them to not attempt it.

For those companies that try to engage in that behavior anyway will find the loss of customers unpalatable, and the market will be able to function as it should. Conversely, companies that advertise that they don't block access (excepting parental controls, of course) will be successful. Those who block access will fail miserably--much to my delight.

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