North Dakota Democrats Outraged When the Federal Government Does a Rare Thing: Give Back Power


North Dakota District 41 legislative candidate Brandon Medenwald talks about the repeal of net neutrality while flanked by Nick Horob, Clint Howitz, Tim Hoye and Karla Rose Hanson at the office of Simply Apps in downtown Fargo on Monday, April 23, 2018. David Samson / The Forum

Yesterday a rare thing happened in our federal government.

It gave back some power.

Specifically, the FCC’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations began. It’s not very often we see the federal government voluntarily give up regulatory authority like that, and it’s something to be applauded.

Not happy about the move, unfortunately, was a group of partisan Democrats who gathered at a press conference yesterday to bemoan the development and demand that Governor Doug Burgum attempt to implement net neutrality regulations at the state level through executive order.

A power I’m not even sure the Governor has:

The group, led by Democratic District 41 House candidate Brandon Medenwald, calls for Burgum to require internet service providers to allow access to all content and applications regardless of their source, without favoring or blocking products because an ISP may disagree with a particular message or because they want to charge more money for faster delivery of services.

“We all believe in a free and open internet, without censorship, where winners and losers are not decided by the companies selling internet access, but rather by the sites and services offering the best ideas,” said Medenwald, founder of Simply Made Apps in Fargo.

Yes. These left wing politicians love the idea of an open internet so much they want hugely intrusive government regulation dictating the relationship between internet service providers and content providers.

The cognitive dissonance on display in this position is breathtaking.

Burgum, who has an extensive background in the tech sector, was having none of it. “Reliable high-speed internet is the critical infrastructure of the 21st century. The internet thrived, grew and survived from its inception until 2015 when the Obama administration attempted to apply Depression-era regulations to fix something that wasn’t broken,” Burgum said in a statement responding to the Democratic politicos. “Internet service providers in North Dakota have reaffirmed their commitment to continue providing fair and unfettered access, as they always have. We need policies that support investment and encourage innovation, not regulation.”

That’s exactly right. The Obama administration attempted to use regulatory policy developed long before the age of computers, let alone the age of the internet, to impose ill-considered and thoroughly ideological policy on internet service providers.

In theory net neutrality stops ISP’s from unfair throttling or censorship practices. In reality, the policy prohibits creative pricing programs which would allow consumers to pay for internet access plans that best suit their needs.

The capacity for that sort of innovation is what has allowed the internet to flourish since it’s creation. Diminishing that capacity through heavy-handed government regulation would do all internet users a disservice.

Massive online content providers like Facebook like net neutrality policies because it forces ISP’s to essentially treat their bandwidth-gobbling enterprises as if they were no different from your Grandma using her wifi to send a couple of emails.

That’s not how free markets should work. Let’s all be glad the Democrats didn’t get their way on net neutrality. Your internet experience is the better for it.