by C.G. Lynch

Net Neutrality Advocates: Not Just Your Average Hippie

Jul 17, 20073 mins
IT Leadership

     Yesterday’s filing of statements from hundreds of internet users and advocacy groups to the FCC reopened the net neutrality debate, and I say it’s about time.

      For a couple years now, my worries about the net neutrality debate have been two fold. First, I’ve feared it would end up being portrayed in the same 2-dimensional way all political issues in D.C. get presented these days to the public. In one corner, big business telecommunications companies (and the politicians in their pocket) will say no regulation is needed when it comes to the internet and to prevent them from charging what they like flies in the face of American ideals. In the other corner, the detractors will be a bunch of long-haired, scruffy tech hippies that don’t know anything about free-market capitalism and should go live in a commune up in Northern California.

      But this debate is much more dynamic than that. The beauty is, now the hippies have billion dollar corporations (Google, for one) in their corner who care very much about a free and open market on the web, so the telecoms might not be able to buy this decision like they’d probably hoped. Certainly, the politicians who have been compliant and willing pawns for the telecom’s cause have not exactly articulated very good arguments. Meanwhile, the Googles of the world have been supported by people such as Timothy Berners-Lee, who might just know a thing or two about the web. And even some politicians in congress have showed they might hopefully understand the debate.

      Yesterday, hundreds of groups and internet users argued the merits of keeping the internet the same for all, but conservative advocacy groups and telecoms fought back, asserting that there is no need for regulation because they haven’t charged more yet for competing content.

      So does that mean we should just wait for them to start doing so? Well, some people think  we should roll over and let them because it would fly in the face of free market economics not to. But that argument is so grossly oversimplified because it ignores, with great irony, the fact that equal access to the internet allows for low barriers to entry, which, in turn, allows more and more start-ups and new companies to prosper. If that isn’t American, I don’t

know what is.

    But yesterday’s debate also brings up the issue with how out-of-touch Washington is when it comes to the web, and how things must be done to change that. Hopefully, a more tech-oriented group of presidential candidates could show their prowess in the coming years, but that remains to be seen. In this pretty apt list, however, PC Mag writer Dan Costa shows six tech-savvy things the next president should know.

Maybe they won’t subscribe to all of them, but having a list of their own might be a start.