[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Why conservatives and libertarians should oppose Net neutrality

[Whatever you think of the desirability of Net neutrality, keep in mind 
what the legislation actually says. It would award the FCC the power to 
regulate what business models will be permitted on the next generation 
of the Internet. --Declan]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Net neutrality primer for the rightosphere
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 07:58:32 -0700
From: Matt S <orinsf@gmail.com>
To: VRWBlogosphere <orinsf@gmail.com>

Hi all, pardon the "bulk" email. I want to bring to your attention the issue
of net neutrality, which you may have heard in your travels. I would love
for you to look into it and spread the word to your audience.

In a nutshell, the concept of a network neutrality mandate is that all bits
on the Internet must be treated identically, by law. It has become something
of a hot-button because one of the telcos said some impolitic things that
set off the conspiracy theorists and got the attention of Congress.

While "neutrality" sounds benign, the proposed legislation would give the
FCC powers that it currently does not have. Be clear, *there is no
neutrality legislation in place and we are doing just fine. *

More importantly, from a technical and economic perspective, I am a great
supporter of innovation and experimentation and the free markets that enable
them. A neutrality mandate would give the federal gov't regulatory powers to
decide right and wrong at the router level.

You should not be surprised that the loudest advocates of net neutrality are
those on the far left, including MyDD, MoveOn and Craig Newmark (lovely guy
but hardened socialist). Their arguments are very much in line with things
like McCain-Feingold and the old Fairness Doctrine.

It is also being sold as "fear the big bad corporations". I don't have any
particular affection for any of the companies involved here, but I do know
that customers know best. Some customers might indeed say, I will pay
more for better video. Alternatively, the market may say "we like it the way
it is", which is neutrality de facto. In either case, we don't need Congress
or the FCC to make the call.

The history of the Internet has taught us we should imagine the unimagined.
Let's preserve the absence of inhibition that has gotten us this far. Keep
it libertarian. No new laws.

(Put another way: think about what the FCC has done in the name of
"decency". Now expand it to private bits on private networks. That's
"neutrality".)

Some reading:

Me, natch:
http://www.onlyrepublican.com/orinsf/net_neutrality_and_municipal_wifi/

Martin Geddes describes why "neutrality" is ill-defined, unenforceable and
naive:
http://www.telepocalypse.net/archives/000905.html

Mark Cuban says "Hell yes, I'll pay for faster packets":
http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000267073488/

A new organization called Hands Off the Internet:
http://handsoff.org

Your feedback is welcome, kind regards,

- Matt S
The Only Republican in San Francisco
www.onlyrepublican.com

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Apr 25, 2006 in category economics


Get a Politech feed through RSS or Atom [RSS] [Atom]

The Politech general information pages and photographs are copyrighted by Declan McCullagh. Original posts distributed to the mailing list are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License