Friday, December 31, 2010

Sen Thune against net neutrality?

Sen. John Thune had a word about "government intervention" in his monthly newsletter:

Shortly before Christmas, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), voted to enact so-called network neutrality regulations.... Senator Thune believes the FCC’s decision to adopt this burdensome federal regulation is simply another example of the heavy hand of government reaching into an industry that isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.

(You can read the full article, unthrottled (for now) on Sen Thune's website.)

Here was my response, sent to his comment page.

The Hon. John Thune

Dear Senator Thune,

I read with interest your December newsletter article criticizing the FCC’s decision to protect free speech on the (wired) internet.

As a believer in political speech and rural development, I was quite surprised to hear you so roundly criticize “net neutrality” as unnecessary government intervention.

I think it’s important to realize that without government “intervention” the internet (at least as we know it) would not exist in the first place.

I strongly disagree with your criticism of the FCC’s “intervention” in the internet. I believe that the FCC’s ruling did not go far enough, as it allows wireless traffic to be screened by providers carte blanche.

The internet has been compared to the interstate highway system – and I believe that is a good analogy. Imagine if our Federal highway system allowed operators of private toll roads to be an integral part of the system – and only allowed a certain kind of car (say, one the road operator had a business interest in) to drive in a paved lane, requiring others to drive on gravel. This is what the net neutrality issue is about.

In China, the government feels free, even obligated, to interfere with packets of data traveling on their networks to serve their government’s interests. In my opinion, in the U.S., the gradual erosion of net neutrality by interests such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and other providers has the potential to be a no-less dangerous limit on free speech and economic innovation.

The open internet is an engine for free speech (from the right and the left), and economic development, in South Dakota and across the world. Allowing internet service providers to favor one website's traffic over another would restrict the ability for new small businesses to create jobs and hobble the great benefits the internet has had on our democracy.

I urge you to reconsider your position on net neutrality, and support congressional and FCC action to preserve the free exchange of ideas and business across the internet.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Senator Thune won't say this, but I will: good to hear from you again, cp! And you're dead on with net neutrality: Government "intervention" here is as essential as other protections for free speech and free association. Letting the big telecoms dictate what information we can access is bad, bad, bad.