FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Tech at Night: Free Press, Net Neutrality, FCC, Google, Comcast, Amazon
Next week the FCC meets to make a decision on Net Neutrality. So there’s plenty going on as all sides press the FCC to do one thing or another. Some are lobbying more competently than others, though. Doing well are the Senate Republicans who prepare to fight and the incoming House Committee leadership who are getting loud on Net Neutrality and the runaway FCC.
Doing not so well are the forces of regulation caught this week making bad mistakes. First is the fringe neo-Marxist group Free Press. The Free Press tech brain trust made a terrible technical mistake on its website by sending anti-Comcast letters when they promised to send pro-Internet Takeover letters. Second we have radicals Media Access Project and Public Knowledge lying about Amazon’s Net Neutrality position, making the firm out to be taking a hardline pro-Internet Takeover position when in fact the firm supports a modest compromise.
If the radicals can’t even run their own lobbying efforts correctly, why should we trust them to run the entire Internet?
One reason I think the Net Neutrality fight is so important is that any powers the FCC takes now will be used later. What comes later? A Universal Broadband Plan is going to be the push. One of the great progressive fantasies is that Government is the only reason people outside of big cities have phones at all, so they want to use that fantasy to gin up support for online price controls. The more we keep the FCC within its statutory limits now, the easier that fight will be for supporters of innovation and free markets.
That isn’t to say that bad Net Neutrality regulations can’t hurt in themselves, though. Of course they can. Investors in innovation know just how important a free-wheeling Internet is. We don’t want gatekeepers on the Internet, even if those gatekeepers are from the government and claim they are here to help.
Even Google’s Chief Evangelist says govenrments should get their hands off. Oh, sorry. Vint Cerf says that governments should have limited influence on website standards. Google is still in favor of some form of government control of network management standards via Net Neutrality regulation. They’re only libertarians when it comes to their own rice bowl.
Yes, yes, the Verizon/Google policy proposal was much better than anything the radicals have put out. Of that I have no doubt. But it’s still pretty shameless that Cerf pushed Andrew McLaughlin and the White House so hard on regulation but still has the nerve to come out and say now that government is harmful when it comes to things Google needs.
I don’t think everything Google says or does is automatically bad though, which is why I’m limited in what I’ll link from a site like Inside Google. It was amusing to watch that site do a 180 when Google switched sides in the Net Neutrality debate, going from the far left toward the middle. But I think this is a fair question: Can Google do business ethically in China? These days, with hindsight many of us question the dealings of any business that worked with Nazi Germany. Should we do the same of those that work with Red China?
That’s especially true when Google is less cooperative with our government than with China’s, as the firm is stonewalling Connecticut’s Attorney General (and in two weeks, Senator) Richard Blumenthal in his WiSpy Street View investigation. One wonders if that will come back to haunt them once Blumenthal is in the Senate.
By the way, it’s time to stop playing politics and get out of hte way of the NBC Universal/Comcast merger when even leading Democrats like Hank Johnson are saying it needs to happen soon. Of course the deal is already loaded with sops to socialist and racist special interests (it’s a wonder it doesn’t include a promise for the merged firm to work to help keep Guam from capsizing), but I suppose that was unavoidable when we have a Community Organizer in the White House and a San Francisco Democrat as Speaker.