How about framing the Net as rivers and oceans, which nobody owns and which float everybody’s boat? Or how about framing the Net as public land? How about framing the Net as the “Information Highway” that became a cliche (without ever quite happening) a decade ago? To get what I mean by that, consider what the US would be like today if we hadn’t created the Interstate Highway System fifty years ago. What would the lack of Interstate Highway infrastructure have cost us by now? Where would Germany be without the Autobahn? How about Switzerland without its rail system? How about any great city without its international airports?
There is a big difference between the rivers and oceans and the Internet. The former were created by God. I realize and respect many do not feel the rivers and oceans were created by God. The point is they have no owner who actively enforced property rights.
The Internet infrastructure was created by man, namely investors. In this way the Internet is more like a canal, dug by someone who put the risk capital forward to make it happen. It is not yours to take.
Public land is a better analogy. Most public land is public because the Federal or State government is the original owner, and was deeded the property by claim, purchase, or conquest. Other property is purchased for the public good, using the common law concepts of Eminent Domain. Other times it is expropriated, where property is taken without compensation, such as the economic loss experienced by timber owners unlucky enough to have the spotted owl protected by the Endangered Species Act on their land.
We had an Interstate Highway before Eisenhower’s plan. It was called the railroad. The government decided to enter the road business under the disguise of providing connectivity for national security. I’d love to see a chart that compared the market capitalization of the railroads vs. national highway expenditures from 1930 to 1980. You would see that the railroads failed to compete with the government, and Uncle Sam effectively put the railroads out of business.
Those in favor of Net Neutrality should think in terms of Eminent Domain. What are you willing to pay the carriers to remove their right to use their networks as they see fit?
If you are not willing to do this, then prepare to fund a parallel public infrastructure. This would be analogous to building an Interstate Highway System adjacent to pre-existing toll roads. Some municipalities are doing this already.
However, the last thing people should consider is expropriating the assets of the telecom industry. Nationalizing the use of these assets without compensation is something that Lenin himself once spoke of, when he advocated government control of the “Commanding Heights” of an economy — steel, coal and railroads. This is not a future I want for our nation.