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Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2006-06-28 10:29
My friends Paul Meisner of Amazon, and Chris Libertelli of Skype-eBay, whom I personally respect, regularly say NN is not about philosophy in their frequent public defenses of the Net Neutrality. That may be nice and self-reassuring PR mantra, but it does not withstand scrutiny.
I most respectfully have to disagree with Paul and Chris on this; net neutrality is the classic and central philosophical debate of the techcom era.
NN is just a techcom version of the constant American struggle between the dual American political values that Americans hold dear: freedom and equality. When issues such as NN put these values in conflict, taking away commercial and individual freedoms to create net equality, it is a philosophical debate. Conservatives and Republicans tend to favor protecting freedom over promoting equality. Liberals and Democrats tend to favor promoting equality over protecting freedoms.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2006-06-28 09:58
In my debates on NN I run up against some myths that net neutrality-ites have popularlized. I plan to knock them down one by one over time.
Myth #1: Net neutrality is the way it has always been and NN proponents are just asking for a maintenance of the status quo.
That is only partially true and it gets less and less true every day. That's becuase NN was a monopoly era policy that is being phased out and made obsolete by the emergence of broadband competition. In other words, NN is a vestige of the dial-up world that will continue to phase out as people upgrade from the dial-up slow lane to the broadband fast lane. The FCC, supported by the Supreme Court, ruled that broadband could not be a monoploy market, becuase it was nascent and competitive market.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2006-06-27 09:56
Last week someone analogized net neutrality to the world in the popular movie "Minority Report" with Tom Cruise. (I apologize for not remembering who shared this dead-on analogy with me, thank you whoever you were.) In the scary future-world depicted in Minority Report, "pre-cognition" technology, i.e. mind-reading technology, enabled the Government to know if people were "thinking" of breaking the law before they actually did. This way the Government could intervene and "jail" the offender before the offense occurred! That's freedom for ya!
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-06-26 13:20
Listen in as James Gattuso and I discuss how net neutrality legislation would negatively impact competition and consumer choice.
James is a Senior Research Fellow who handles regulatory and telecommunications issues for The Heritage Foundation.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-06-26 12:56
Microsoft is announcing today a new big initiative to enter the broadband business phone market to offer unified voice-data communications in competition with broadband providers. Reporters should ask if this means net neutrality would apply to them as new broadband competitors? Their answer should be an entertaining dance on the head of a pin.
It is important to remember that Microsoft successfully lobbied the FCC a couple of years ago for de-regulatory decisions to let them enter traditional communications on an un-regulated basis.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2006-06-23 10:00
For those of you interested in what I think is the best and most succinct debate yet on NN, I suggest you listen to the audio of the 10 minute debate between Paul Meisner of Amazon and I last night on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. They fairly set up the debate and then let Paul and I very freely and openly debate.
One thing that was new, was that I was able to debunk one of Paul's key points, that since it is the customer that would order video over the Internet, it isn't Amazon's fault or cost to pay for any of the delivery. I explained why that was a spurious argument. It would be like saying, Amazon has a huge parking lot holding a large fleet of very heavy trucks and equipment and because it was the customer that called and asked for Amazon to dispatch the trucks and heavy equipment to drive on the road, Amazon had no role or responsibility for the wear and tear that the heavy trucks had on the road -- just because they didn't dispatch the truck! Puuuuhleeeeez!
That is just one of many NN arguments that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2006-06-21 19:13
I really enjoyed this New York sun article on Clinton, Other Hopefuls Reach For Netroots
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/34792 . It appears that NN is the politically expedient position for democratic political candidates who want and need to raise beaucoup bucks from the Internet. The old adage is true, if you want honey don't kick the beehive.
NN clearly is not a "New Democrat" position. Sad the Democratic Presidential candidates are going back to Old Democrat ways, but that is typical of the pre-primary cycle.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2006-06-20 11:18
Today's WSJ had a very interesting article on how municipalities are seeking to offer free city-wide WiFi broandband servce to their residents paid for by advertising. Hello? It appears as if municipalities around the country have not connected-the-dots of the Snowe-Dorgan NN bill could effectively outlaw that business model in serving consumers becuase it would be discriminatory. Municipalities might consider weighing in on Snowe-Dorgan so the hand of BIG GOVERNMENT does not ban their nascent innovative efforts.
The Snowe-Dorgan bill is so breath-takingly indiscriminate and sweepingly hyper-regulatory that it regulates anything remotely broadband. First, in a fit of hubris, Snowe-Dorgan, even legally defines the word "user" for the first time, which even the hyper-regulatory House Markey Bill did not deem necessary! Why are they defining "users" unless they want to regulate them too?
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-06-19 13:30
One of the biggest reasons NN would be a disaster to implement is that no one can define it --meaning it would be left to the courts to do so -- which can take eleven years! Late last week the DC Court of Appeals finally upheld for the first time the FCC's unbundling rules stemming from the 1996 Telecom Act. It took the FCC four attempts over eleven years to craft rules implementing the 1996 Telecom Act's unbundling rules.
Why is this a big issue for NN? First the House Markey and Snowe-Dorgan bills were drafted very similarly to the section 251 of the Telecom Act, which created so much legal uncertainty.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-06-19 08:30
I am encouraged Chairman Stevens new third draft has focused on a consumer-oriented net neutrality compromise more in line with the light touch in the House approach. The ecommerce giants have consistently pushed for a producer-oriented approach which is designed to protect themselves from more competition while doing little for the consumer. Chairman Stevens gets it.
My view continues to be that the legislation should not mention net nuetrality at all becuase any mention of it leaves future heavy handed regulators an opening for Big Govenment regulation and micromanagment of the Internet.