When Did Network Neutrality Become A Partisan Issue?

from the this-is-unfortunate dept

One of the interesting things about the debates that we have here about legal issues concerning innovation is that they tend not to be partisan. It's never been easy to line up a specific intellectual property agenda with one party or another -- which tends to mean that any debate on the subject at least focuses a bit more on the issues, rather than stereotypes of Democrats or Republicans. However, it looks like the network neutrality debate is suddenly becoming partisan -- which is a worrisome trend. Lots of folks have covered the fact that an amendment today to include network neutrality language in a telecom reform bill was voted down. However, it's telling that everyone is now covering it as a partisan issue, whether the headline is "GOP Gets It Way on Net Neutrality" or "Democrats lose House vote on Net neutrality". This is an important issue to discuss, without there needing to be partisan bickering about it. Network neutrality is quite a complex topic, and unfortunately, it seems like both sides of the debate are simplifying it down to slogans which risk confusing, rather than enlightening, people. The efforts to write network neutrality into the law are a very tricky subject, with the obvious fear being that any regulations will inadvertently excessively penalize future developments. On the other side of the coin, those preaching a complete "hands off" position seem to ignore the fact that it's way too late for that. The only reasons the telcos are in the position to violate network neutrality are because they've pretty much been granted subsidies and monopoly rights of way -- and part of that bargain was that to increase competition, there needed to be open and fair access. To suddenly claim that we need a hands off approach is ignoring the fact that there's never been a hands off approach and the companies involved were granted special rights. Balancing these two sides is an important issue -- and simply lining it up as a Democratic vs. Republican issue is only likely to cloud it with pointless bickering and misleading statements on both sides.
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  1. identicon
    Patrick Mullen, 27 Apr 2006 @ 7:32am

    OK, so the politicians are bought and sold, that isn't changing, so why can't consumers just vote with their pocketbook.

    I can post here via my mobile phone, via my cable connection at home or I could buy DSL and post here. That is 3 choices. Soon broadband over power may happen, WiFi/WiMax will mature and who knows what else?

    If you want to really see an explosion in broadband usage, forget about regulations, let anyone who wants to offer broadband offer it. Let loose with national franchises, open up the wireless spectrum bidding, make it easy to provide service. If you don't like what a wireline company be your provider. If you don't like that, let a wireless company be your provider. Competition is out there.

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