Once the government expands its power into a new area, it rarely recedes. One big reason why is that whenever efforts are made to roll back government authority, powerful interests scream bloody murder and fight against its repeal. This blowback was famously displayed in 2017 when the Trump administration repealed a set of Obama-era internet regulations known as “net neutrality.”
Net neutrality, simply put, restricted the ability of internet service providers to differentiate between different types of content and traffic. For example, an internet provider prioritizing emergency services transmissions over cat videos loading on YouTube would be a violation of net neutrality.
Alarmist critics predicted that repealing these regulations would end the internet as we know it, creating a digital dystopia where companies throttled favored content and sped up their preferred content. Four years later, we can see that none of their doomsday predictions came true.
Targeted Victory’s Nathan Leamer, who previously worked for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai during net neutrality repeal, put together a list on Twitter highlighting some of the most ridiculous predictions that have aged poorly.
These include a CNN headline — news, not opinion — that claimed net neutrality’s repeal was going to lead to the “end of the internet as we know it,” an outlandish claim also made by Sen. Bernie Sanders. An NBC headline similarly claimed that “ending net neutrality will destroy everything that makes the internet great.”
Oh, and don’t forget this insane tweet from the account for Senate Democrats:
These are just a few of countless hyperbolic, panicked warnings about the supposed doomsday awaiting us if an antiquated communications law was taken off the books.
If you’ve so much as checked your email in the years since net neutrality was repealed, you know that none of these dire warnings came true. Internet service providers have not arbitrarily throttled speeds or destroyed the internet because, just like free market advocates always promised, consumer demand has kept them in check.
What you may not know, however, is that internet speeds and investment in broadband have significantly risen with costly regulations out of the way. So, the alarmism hasn’t just proven ill-founded; things have actually improved since net neutrality’s repeal.
Of course, while an extreme example, this doomsday backlash and hyperbole were par for the course during the Trump administration. But it’s not just a matter of party politics or one president. We must keep the lesson of the great net neutrality panic in mind in the future so the next time we try to roll back government power and the media and Democrats raise hell, the public doesn’t fall for their baseless paranoia again.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a Washington Examiner contributor and co-host of the Based Politics podcast. Email him at email@example.com.