After seeing more and more on the ‘Nets about McCain’s insane bill misleadingly labeled as the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that describes itself as a way to “allow for continued innovation”, and will “create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment” – I simply have to put in my two cents.
This whole bill is bullshit.
There’s my two cents. But I am still shocked at how many people simply don’t understand the bill itself (a group which apparently includes McCain- none of what he describes is outlined in the bill or a logical result of it being enacted), but more commonly what exactly ‘net-neutrality’ means these days, and perhaps most importantly the real reasons McCain introduced it in the first place.
Looking at some very real letter’s to the FCC from IFA supporters, it’s clear to me that the people behind them don’t understand the very real, everyday, important connection between federal regulations and freedom. They keep falling in the same trap, assuming that more regulation means less freedom. It’s easy to forget that regulations can enforce freedoms (and not simply reduce them).
Take for example one of the most fundamental sets of regulations: the Bill of Rights. This document regulates our basic freedoms. It requires that all people, companies, legal entities etc. must grant others the freedoms of speech, to bear arms, to due process, to not search our houses without warrant, and so on and so on. The entire document is nothing more than a set of regulations that protect the people (us) from other people (and groups, companies, governments where applicable) from denying us our freedoms.
Not only can we grant freedom through regulation, our short history as a nation demonstrates that we must grant freedoms through regulation. If we have a social/economical/moral right of some kind, it will not be granted to us if there is no law to require it. We are left to the whim of the masters to dole out rights to us as they simply find convenient.
The Internet Freedom Act will prevent the government from regulating any kind of internet and IP-based traffic. This might sound like a warm and fuzzy idea to you, especially if you by principle like the government to be “hands off”. But what you need to remember is the Internet is fed to us through a very small group of companies, essentially like (or already are) utility companies, to which there is at any given time perhaps two or three businesses that can provide a usable path to the Internet. There are physical limits to the amount of lines that can be laid, to the amount of traffic that can be shared on each line, and FCC limits on the companies that can even lay lines in the first place. We can’t let the market decide which ISP’s are successful, the reality is that there will only be a few available at any given time.
I ask you, do you want these few monopolies to decide how your internet is fed back to you? If you start a blog to voice your opinion, would you like Comcast or AT&T to decide if or how others could even see it? They don’t own your content – but they do own the only way for users to access it. If they felt like it they could block you, slow your connections down, or redirect traffic to other sites instead. The FCC is only trying to prevent this from happening.
If you can’t yet grant that we have a right to see information on the internet as we deem fit – imagine for a moment that we’re not talking about the internet, but simple phone service. We can draw a ton of parallels to our current ‘Net-Neutrality’ situation with the phone companies of yesteryear.
Currently, all phone providers are required, by FCC regulations, to provide service to all registered local telecom lines. Verizon must allow you to call AT&T, and they must allow you to call users on smaller networks like Cricket. This grants you the freedom to choose from a limited number of providers for phone service, but no matter what company you go with they all connect to the same local telecom lines. We’re all very used to this idea – I can call my brother’s Qwest line from my AT&T phone, or my parents on Comcast, my uncle on Verizon. And we can all call 911.
This is how FCC regulations grants us freedom to use the lines to connect with one another on the phone.
It might shock you to find out this is NO DIFFERENT than the Internet. For now at least, I can go to youtube through AT&T, to hulu over Comcast, to Wikipedia on Verizon. These abilities have been just happy coincidences – no law required this be the case. But as traffic rose, ISP’s began to change they way the handled traffic, and are already working hard to find ways to limit access as they deem fit. Without regulation, you’ll no longer have the freedom of access to the Internet.
This is how the FCC’s newest regulations grants us freedom to use the lines to connect with one another on the internet.
I don’t understand how you could be against internet-neutrality, when you’re all so happy with the government regulated freedoms on our phone lines. McCain was alive in the 60’s, I’m sure he’s old enough to be familiar with Bell-South’s iron fist. Back when you had to lease your phone from “MaBell” – when prices were fixed, without competition, for decades. Where poor customer service was the only choice (that or not have a phone at all). Maybe McCain’s so old he actually can’t remember how important it was to open the phone lines for general use. But back then, then FCC empowered the American people to communicate with one another without being squished by a monopolistic (even granting a naturally monopolistic) communication entity. I’m reminded from something I read a long time ago from AT&T when the government started telling them how to run the phones:
“There are two giant entities at work in our country, and they both have an amazing influence on our daily lives. . . one has given us radar, sonar, stereo, teletype, the transistor, hearing aids, artificial larynxes, talking movies, and the telephone. The other has given us the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, the Great Depression, the gasoline crisis, and the Watergate fiasco. Guess which one is now trying to tell the other one how to run its business?”
Ignoring the fact that Bell South really fell flat on their “artificial larynxes” programs, people are still arguing like this today – why should the government tell ISP’s how to run their business? The answer is the same now as it was for Bell-South in the 60’s – natural monopolies (or even oligopolies) need to be regulated in order to maintain our freedom of access. Without regulation, you simply sanction their ability to oppress the masses.
Consider the reality which arose after FCC regulations began opening up the phone lines:
“There are two giant entities at work in our country and they both have an amazing influence on our daily lives. . . one has given us high prices, poor customer service, eliminated all possible competitors, wasted millions in antitrust litigation cases. The other has given us the freedom to use the phone lines as we saw fit; allowed inventors to create and popularize faxes and modems which ignited the computer-driven business of the 70’s and 80’s made possible only because companies could so easily communicate and send electronic data over telecom lines; who opened communication internationally in what eventually became the foundational glue for global technological revolution on a scale never before seen in recorded history. Guess which one is now trying to tell the other one how to run its business?”
Net-neutrality is critical in security all our freedoms for controlling the internet as we see fit – as the market sees fit – and not just as the few ISP monopolies see fit.
If we need the “Internet Freedom Act of 2009”, then I’d argue we also need “Phone-line Freedom Act of 2009” – to prevent the government from regulating the phone system and all number-based telephony networks. Why should the government tell the big companies how to run the phone system? Let AT&T force us to lease our phones from them again. Let telecom development stagnate like the 60’s. What right does the government have to say how Bell South’s err, I mean Comcast/Verizon/AT&T should control their network!? I say, we give these companies back their freedom to restrict our access and options to the communications network. It worked so wonderfully in the 60’s, didn’t it, McCain?
Of all people, I feel like a dinosaur like him would understand, first-hand, how creating a Bell-South Internet will harm us all. But then you just need to look at his lobbyist contributions – McCain received over $800,000 from AT&T, Comcast, NCTA, and Verizon, which are all launching multimillion dollar grass root propaganda campaigns to stop net neutrality from enforcing our freedom. I’ll even grant that he simply doesn’t understand the issue – he’s been on record numerous occasions where he describes himself as a computer “illiterate”, who “never felt the particular need to email.”
Look, don’t be mislead on this. Don’t let the word ‘regulation’ scare you – this is about protecting our freedom of communication on the medium that defines our generation. The Internet is ours – not the ISP’s.