You are here

How net neutrality proponents have lost their way -- my debate with Freepress on NPR

I had a friendly and informative debate last night with Ben Scott of Free Press on a National Public Radio show Digital Spin hosted by Mario Armstrong out of Baltimore on WEAA.

What I found interesting in Ben Scott of Freepress' account of the debate was how this debate has become more about the activists themselves and their self-congratulating grass roots movement than the issue of net neutrality or the benefit of the consumers they allege to represent. 

When asked to describe how the net neutrality debate was going, I recounted the facts of winning 269-151 in the House, 11-11 and 15-7 in the Senate and that it was uncertain what the fate of the overall telecom bill would be. What I found fascinating was how Mr. Scott chose to explain it. In wrapping up his position last night Mr. Scott basically described in self congratulatory terms how a ragtag group of underfunded grass roots movement has fought to a standstill the heavy lobbying of the communications giants.

As often happens in battle combattants get so caught up in the fight that they can forget what they are fighting for. Liberal Free Press and its activists are so focused on the tactics of blocking the Telecom Bill that they have lost sight of what they say they are all about -- supposedly protecting consumers. They are obviously more interested in promoting themselves and their organizations' prowess than they are in delivering actual tangible results and protections for consumers.

Net neutrality proponents like Free Press seem to have totally forgotten that there is no net neutrality now and that THEY need to pass legislation to get the protections they claim are needed so direly. How comical it is that they have taken themselves hostage and they don't even get it!

If they bring down the pending telecom bill over net neutrality, they will kill the only viable legislative vehicle for getting net neutrality principles into law, like the Senate bills strong protections of Internet free speech and codifying their cherished net neutraltiy principles. In holding out for a defacto price regulation regime rather than the consensus solution of regulation-light regime in the current bills, net neutrality proponents are betting the farm on the longest of long shots. 

Net neutrality proponents are so naive it is not even funny. If they think they have ANY chance of passing their hyper-regulatory approach any time in the future they are in dream land. Even if we give them the extreme benefit of the doubt, and say that the Democrats take both the House and the Senate and the Presidency in 2008, do they honestly think they could pass their hyper-regulatory version of net neutrality? They know like we do it is massively easier to block legislation than to pass it. Do they think that the broadband companies with all their skill and resources deployed on the seminal issue of net neutrality could not block such terribly economically-destructive legislation in the future when Freepress believes they can gum up the works when the Republicans control the House, Senate, and Presidency? Do they actually believe their own spin that they have superpowers?

This issue is no longer about net neutrality or practically protecting consumers. If it was proponents would be in negotiating mode to cut a deal to get much more protections than they have now r have any chance of getting in the next two years. It is clear that those who are promoting net neutrality have their own self-aggrandizing and alterior agendas and are not truly interested in protecting consumers. The total lack of any real interest in negotiating a compromise on net neutrality is all the proof one needs to see what net neutrality proponents true motives are.  Â Sad but true.  Â