The new champion of Net Neutrality is...Burger King?

There’s a new champion of Net Neutrality and his name is The Burger King. That’s right, Burger King is going all hip by putting together a PSA(?) explaining the “evils” of no Net Neutrality to customers in a video called Whopper Neutrality.

First off, it’s pretty shocking there are any Burger King customers still alive since the repeal of Net Neutrality killed everyone, followed by the tax cuts, followed by the three-day shut down of 17ish% of the U.S. government. The only reason I’m writing is Odin blessed me with plenty of vim and vigor, and a nearby village perfect for raiding parties.

But, second off, Burger King is completely missing the mark when it comes to criticizing no Net Neutrality. Proponents of Net Neutrality say the government needs to make sure there’ s a level playing field, because of huge corporations like Comcast, Charter, and AT&T. I’m no fan of humongous corporations, but giving heavy regulatory power to the government, which is already spying on innocent Americans through secret courts, seems quite hypocritical. There’s also the possibility big telecoms are the ones providing Internet because of franchise agreements made with local governments which slices and dices up cities for tech companies. The current system is sadly not quite “the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation,” as written in U.S. law. Alas, that’s something worth probing for another day.

There a certain irony Burger King’s decision to get involved in the Net Neutrality fight. FreedomWorks Director of Policy Patrick Hedger mentioned to me BK, “doesn’t sell Pepsi products, they have an exclusive deal with Coca-Cola. Not very neutral of them. How dare they block Pepsi’s market access on their infrastructure.”

The other irony is the fact there are so many different fast food options available. It’d be curious to find out how many “actual guests,” as BK swears they used, decided to walk out of the establishment and head to a McDonald’s, Whataburger, Taco Bell, In-n-Out, Chick-fil-A, or non-chain restaurants to get non-Whopper Neutrality prices. That’s how the free market actually works: abundance of companies all competing for customer loyalty and money. It’s something smaller ISPs, including Wireless Service Providers Association, complained Net Neutrality kept from happening in a May 2017 letter to the FCC.

Our challenges are exacerbated by the Title II Order the FCC adopted in 2015, which has significantly increased compliance burdens and regulatory risk through heavy-handed regulation that is rife with uncertainty. Operating in an already difficult environment, these burdens, risks, and uncertainty combine with diminished access to capital to create a vicious cycle – the regulatory burdens make it more difficult to attract capital, and less capital makes it more difficult to comply with regulatory burdens…

[T]he FCC should always bear in mind that small businesses face disproportionate burdens in complying with “one-size-fits-all” regulations. This is especially important when small providers were/are not the source of the various future consumer harms the FCC was trying to prevent through the imposition of Title II. Larger companies – many of which are our competitors – have large compliance departments and resources that can handle subscriber complaints in the ordinary course of business, and can pass through such expenses to a larger subscriber base to lessen any increase in costs to their subscribers. That is not true for small providers. It should also be reiterated that, as far as we know, the FCC has not sanctioned any small providers for any violations of the Title II Order or the 2010 transparency rules – yet the mere threat of FCC investigations and class action lawsuits under Title II act as disincentives to investment. Such disincentives not only delay build-out to unserved areas and service to small businesses and residential consumers, but also create a competitive benefit for our larger competitors that can better absorb the costs.

The Burger King may be trying to be hip and all, why else would the final image of BK’s Whopper Neutrality spot feature the mascot drinking from a huge Reese’s mug, but they’re just wrong. BK’s got every right to try to promote Whopper Neutrality or Net Neutrality, they just need to be honest about it. Of course, given the shrill comments from Net Neutrality supporters on the issue, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a bunch of hyperbolic commentary, complete with factual inaccuracies, coming out. The facts are this: Net Neutrality hindered competition and was anti-free market. It gave the government too much control over the Internet, especially at a time when FISA is, and remains, a big issue in this country. A truly free market system would keep telecoms and ISPs from getting kickbacks from the government, and force them to fight for every customer’s dollar through lower costs, and faster speeds.

Or to quote the hip kids these days, “Can I haz actual free market?”

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