I would not have predicted this: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should allow broadband providers to manage their networks and slow “bandwidth hogs,” despite concerns that such practices arbitrarily target some customers, said a coalition of seven civil rights groups.Net neutrality rules for broadband providers would protect bandwidth hogs at the expense of other customers and civic organizations, said the coalition, which includes the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, League of Rural Voters, and National Council of Women’s Organizations.[…] “Regulations prohibiting network management risk undermining free speech on the Internet by allowing P2P traffic to overwhelm the network and prevent non-P2P traffic from reaching its destination,” the coalition said in its filing. “The effective prioritization of P2P traffic would represent an altogether new type of ‘back of the bus’ second-class status for our speech on broadband networks — and ought to be resoundingly rejected.”

Read the whole thing.

This warms my heart. The premise of most regulation (read: economic planning) is to protect the interests of some group over another. These might take the form of protectionist tariffs, subsidies or price controls.

Unfortunately, such regulations usually have the exact opposite effect. By restricting the development of markets, we end up with less of the intended good, less competition, and higher prices. This inhibits everyone’s progress, which one might see as rights.

In this case, these groups realize that their ability to get their message out is threatened primarily by scarcity of bandwidth, rather than the actions of any one company.

With net neutrality legislation, there is a great disincentive to network buildout, as providers’ returns on investment are reduced. Further, they spend more time fighting lawsuits than building networks. Each new customer comes with new legal liabilities — and such risks are ultimately counted as an expense.

In the longer term, under such regulation, the surviving network providers are those who are best able to lobby for advantages and comply with ill-defined regulation. Result? Fewer new entrants, less competition and less network capacity.

Groups whose existence fundamentally depends on the ability to get their message out should realize that the best solution is a bigger pie for everyone, instead of the quibbling that serves only to keep the pie small.

Mmm, speech pie.