People are up in arms because Congress granted Internet Service Providers the ability to sell the browsing history of users. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. In 2016 the Federal Communication Commission began enforcing a rule preventing ISPs from selling such information. Congress just repealed that rule.

The major ISPs have now come out with a statement saying they will never do so.

Here we have in brilliant technicolor the problem with government regulations. Anything the government can do, they can undo with the swipe of pen. Any law they pass to support one thing, can oppose that same thing when an ideologically different party takes power. When we give government the power to restrict an ISP from selling our browsing history we implicitly give them the power to allow it.

Why, you might ask, have the major ISPs taken the unusual step of vowing never to do so? Because of capitalism. If their customers find out they are selling browsing history they might well find themselves short of customers. Oh, but wait, nobody has much of a choice in ISPs because local government puts up enormous and expensive barriers to companies that want to bring you internet service.

Cable companies pay huge amounts in bribes, I mean fees, in order to service a community. Now things are changing. Wireless Internet Access companies are available in many places but the system is still horribly monopolistic.

Imagine if local governments weren’t involved at all and any capitalist could start up an ISP to compete for your dollars. How long do you think the ones that sell your browsing history would last in a truly competitive market?

The only reason the big ISPs are vowing not to sell your information is because of competition, not government regulations.

Competition brings enormous benefits to consumers in a way government regulation never can. Government regulations are often the reason companies can engage in anti-consumer activity, they stifle competition. Without competition there is nowhere else to go. With competition a company that angers its customers just won’t survive.

That’s capitalism.

The more the government does to protect us, the worse off we are.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray