Broadband Myth Series, Part 1: What Financial Data Shows About the Impact of Title II on ISP Investment

[Commentary] This post kicks of a series of blogs examining some of the more pernicious myths and misunderstandings in telecommunications policy. With a new fire lit under the network neutrality warriors, misinformation runs rampant and spreads quickly.

Let’s turn to the first myth: that financial data shows that Title II isn’t hurting Internet service providers’ investment in their networks.

Financial filings shows broadband investment went down roughly 2-3 percent after the Open Internet Order, consistent with industry’s own findings. It’s especially important that we see continued investment in the infrastructure that supports “best-efforts” open Internet. And there is good reason to think Title II would affect this. Not only did the Open Internet Order take potential business models off the table, and throw others into uncertainty under the Internet Conduct Standard, it represents the first step down the slippery slope to more onerous utility regulations, such as network unbundling requirements or price regulation.

How an “Opt-In” Privacy Regime Would Undermine the Internet Ecosystem

[Commentary] The BROWSER Act would establish affirmative consent (“opt in”) requirements for the collection and use of certain data, such as location and web browsing histories. In addition, the bill would restrict companies from conditioning access to their services on whether users choose to share their data. If adopted, these policies would be a disaster for Internet users and companies. First, obtaining consent is expensive. Second, requiring companies to obtain affirmative consent would make digital services less user-friendly without increasing privacy. Third, the bill requires providers to allow users to remove their data whenever they wish. Finally, the bill prohibits service providers from refusing to provide service as a “direct or indirect consequence of the refusal of a user to waive any such privacy rights.” Congress should reject this legislation, or any similar proposal that attempts to impose opt-in requirements on the digital economy.