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June 2006

The Wisdom of American Democracy

We applaud the House's wise and convincing rejection of the Markey net neutrality amendment 269-152. It was also very heartening that a majority of Democrats joined almost all Republicans in voting for the final Barton net neutrality language in the COPE Act (321-102) that wisely prevents the FCC from regulating the Internet.
 
We have no illusions that this convincing defeat in the most representative body of Congress will slow net neutrality proponents quest to create a Big Government "Socialized-Internet." Fortunately net neutrality proponents can no longer claim that their position is the politically popular one. The House saw through the net neutrality fear-mongering and stayed the course on promoting competition and reducing regulation.

Network Neutrality? Welcome to the stupid Internet

There is a must read op-ed in today’s San Jose Mercury News by Tom Giovanetti. The article, Network Neutrality? Welcome to the stupid Internet does a very good job explaining why net neutrality regulation is obsolete and is an attempt by companies like Google to limit competition.

“What's really going on is that major content companies like Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon.com want to use the strong arm of government to lock in the certainty of their existing business models. And they've enlisted an army of anti-corporate activists to stir up a frenzy in the name of ``saving the Internet.''

Chairman Stevens Holds Strong

I am heartened that Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens’ newest draft of the communications bill did not change on Net Neutrality. That means the Chairman’s draft bill has very good language on net neutrality, i.e. that the FCC should study it to see if there are any real problems and report back to the Senate.

This current Senate language is even better than the acceptable House language passed last week. My real preference would be for no legislative reference to NN at all, since it is potentially the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent.”

The practical limits of e-politics

The net neutrality crowd apparently has fallen into the common trap of “bubble thinking” that because everyone they talk to supports NN, everyone must surely see it that way. While blogging maybe the future, Washington and Congress have never been early adopters. Congress still communicates largely the old-fashioned way: in person, in meetings, over the phone, through hearings and briefings by experts and professionals, at special events or town meetings, and through personal letters and personalized emails.

Last Thursday, the House voted 269-152 against NN; in other words after getting deluged with NN emails, 64% of the people’s representatives voted against NN. How could that be? Well, a must-read Washington Post article from today has exposed some of the practical limits of e-politics.

  • Jeffery Birnbaum, in his K Street Confidential column, explains that Congress believes it is effectively being spammed by groups pushing a variety of agendas.
  • In response, Congress is erecting elaborate technical hoops to try and thwart what I call the political spammers from overwhelming their small constituent support staffs. Surprise. Surprise. Congress doesn’t like political spam any more than the average person likes spam or junk mail.

Horrors! How could anyone consider mass political emails…spam? Isn’t that the essence of e-democracy!  Where any online citizen can write their Representative and Senators, (and everyone else’s too) many times a day? And isn’t it particularly persuasive if lots and lots of different people and computer email programs all deluge Congress at once on the same topic? That will surely convince them!

Congress couldn’t have caught on yet that all those emails are free? Or could they have?

Washington Decorum: Note to Google co-founder Sergey Brin:

Billionaire-ness aside, Senators and Representatives generally view the informality of wearing jeans and tennis shoes on a lobbying visit to the Nation’s Capitol as disrespectful to both the institution, the process, and to them. Dressing like you don’t care what others think -- communicates that exact point.

Even billionaire wannabe, Anna Nicole Smith had the good sense to dress formally and respectfully when she visited Washington recently for her Supreme Court appearance on the legality of her potential inheritance.

An Indiscriminate Internet?

Most of those supporting NN either purposely inflame or have been inflamed by the liberal use of the very perjorative words "discrimination" and "non-discrimination requirements" in the NN debate. Clearly in a human context, "discrimination" against people on the basis of things out of their control is wrong, deplorable and will never be defended here.    
 
However, in an economic-regulation and network-design context, the term non-discrimination applied to a competitive marketplace is a misnomer. Promoting non-discrimination in a competitive market is essentially promoting an indiscriminate Internet. 

NPR Debate Today!

I will be debating net neutrality for two hours today on Pacifica radio an NPR affiliate. www.pacifica.org. about 100 stations nationally.

In DC, it will be on WPFW 89.3 FM from 10-12

During the first hour I will be chatting with Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge, and the second hour Anthony Riddle will join the debate.

I invite everyone to listen in.

 

 

The WSJ and A "Socialized Internet"

If you picked it up yet, check out today's B1 of the Wall Street Journal article, "Not So Neutral." 

Catch coverage of the debate, including a discussion of our net neutrality video in the article.  If you haven't seen the video, you can watch it on the home page of NETCompetition.org.

Tell your friends, everyone should see this video!

 

 

Google and a level playing field?

In Eric Schmidt's letter to Google's AdWords customers last week, he talked about the need for a level playing field for all online competitors, and looking out for small and medium sized businesses. Yeah right. As long as those businesses aren't competing with Google! 
 
Does Google really want a level playing field? Doesn't seem that way, especially when you read today's article in the New York Times.

This is the opposition?

"I don't know anything" 
"These people are bad people"
"I like winning" 
"Vilifying Mike McCurry is really important"

These quotes are taken straight from Matt Stoller's speech on net neutrality at this past weekend's Yearly Kos convention in Vegas. Don't believe me? Check out the video.

So Matt's has been blogging nearly every day on an issue that he openly admits he doesn't understand all in the hopes of scoring political points and mobilizing the Democratic base. Why even bother with a debate focused on the issues, when the other side just wants to "vilify" and "win".

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths