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
    Esteben leach, 27 Apr 2006 @ 8:33am

    Re: Patrick Mullen

    I am glad for you PAtrick Mullen, having so many choices. Up until this last year I had 2 choices 350 up front fee with 70/month for satellite or a 48K landline. Now I have an additional choice i can choose to pay $70/month for DSL. This is on top of the 50$/month for dish or DirectTv I am very happy that lots of you city dwellers have so many choices. Us farming folk have little or no choice, but since we are sucha small segment of the population I expect it to remain that way. So my children will have computer experience but n o broadband, they will have plenty of Linux, but no Mcintosh or Windows. Since we can't get updates to squeeze through the landline, we have no way to update Windows and prevent infection or malware, so our only choice is to use LINUX or McIntosh that requires no constant updating. HAve i mentioned how jealous I am that you have so many choices?

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