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Seeing through SaveTheInternet's slick new manifesto

I just read SaveTheInternet’s new manifesto – “The Internet Freedom Declaration of 2007� and I'm sure it's going to be the main topic of conversation in Memphis this weekend at the NCMR.

On the surface it, I must commend the improved choice of language and the tone, it is a much more thoughtful and less strident policy statement than this group has produced before. It’s certainly easier on the ears, even if it isn’t to the trained eye.

  • I also welcome their obviously reluctant and pragmatic embrace of some conservative and free market language to try and smooth some of the “Big Governmentâ€? rough edges that were out of step with mainstream America.
  • What will be interesting to learn over time, is if this is just pragmatic spin and positioning, or have these traditional anti-business groups actually seen the light that freedom and market choices aren’t such horrible ideas after all? Hope springs eternal.

That said, lets get down to brass tacks.

NN demoted to second amendment status!

The most interesting part of the new manifesto is that when this group had to rank “net neutrality� relative to its other Internet priorities or “Internet rights�, net neutrality was not first, but was effectively demoted to “second� amendment status. (Forget last years rhetoric.. as just rhetoric.)

  • I guess the new “First Amendmentâ€? of the Internet or top Internet priority is “universal affordable accessâ€? to a broadband Internet.
  • The key code words in this section remain very troublesome and belie a Big Government hyper-regulatory agenda.
    • “Affordableâ€? is the monopoly price regulation term of art.
    • “Like the public highways, the information super-highway must be considered a key piece of public infrastructure.â€?
      • Note the use of the word “publicâ€? twice in the same sentence.
      • The fact and reality is that the Internet is a network of private networks that is owned by companies not the state.
      • It is clear that these groups yearn for the good old days of monopoly regulation and aren’t on board with our Nation’s successful bi-partisan policy to end monopoly and promote competition.
      • Is the hidden agenda here to seize private property and nationalize the Internet and broadband networks so it truly can be “public infrastructureâ€??

NN is the last way to get universal affordable access!

If the first priority of those groups that signed this manifesto is universal affordable access, pushing net neutrality isn’t the way to get there.

  • Net regulation, which at its core would turn broadband carriers into utilities, would destroy current successful market incentives to invest in and deploy broadband networks.
  • Currently, there is more and faster, real-facilities-based, broadband investment and deployment occurring in the U.S. than any other country. A net neutrality law would effectively shut down this investment in increasing the capacity of the Internet, because net regulation would eviscerate the ability for companies to differentiate and compete in order to earn a return on their investment.
  • If there is net neutrality regulation, there is no universal affordable broadband investment coming from the private sector.
    • Is there any mention of the need for Big Government to create a new spending program to fund deployment of broadband to all Americans because the private sector lost its ability to earn a return on investment? No.

An “uncompetitive marketplace?�

Another part of this manifesto that I find very troubling is the statement, as if it is fact, that U.S. broadband is an “uncompetitive marketplace.�

  • Here is where the drafters could not sanitize their true views enough to hide their real agenda.
  • The U.S. has the single most competitive broadband marketplace in the world.
    • No other company comes close to the real facilities based compeititon we have in this country.
  • The groups that signed this manifesto, deep down are anti-business and blind to seeing the facts in front of them.
    • No matter what the real facts are, or the true progress that has been made, it is never enough, the goal posts always move so they can conclude the market is not competitive under “their definition.â€?

Bottom line: this is the same old anti-business, Big Government agenda dressed up like a “Trojan Horse� gift so it can try and slip by unsuspecting and undiscerning eyes. Don’t be fooled.