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
    Jonathon, 27 Apr 2006 @ 8:53am

    Agree and Disagree

    There is truth in that, but there are also some flaws.

    Yes, there is competition with different services (wired and wireless...powerlines still a huge maybe). But that is talking about personal use applications.

    I don't know for sure, but would doubt that there are many businesses that would run their services hosted via a wireless connection. So, small businesses (I guess large ones too) are pretty much tied to wired connections. In that respect this does have a big impact.

    I'm a republican (moderate though) and I don't agree with this proposal. However, I do see the argument. Yes, it costs money to build new infrastrucutre, so yes they should be able to charge for usage of that infrastrucure. Anything NEW that they are installing they should be able to control however they want tiered or not since they are the ones who footed the bill for it. However, for the pre-existing connections that had gov't funding they should be publically accessible and non-regulated.

    Ok, now to speak like a true Republican. Life isn't fair. I work hard for my money. Everyone isn't equal in the sense that not everyone is the same. We should all have the same opportunities and freedoms, but that doesn't mean that we should outlaw price descrimination. Creating services that are prohibitivly costful are just fine so long as they are available just the same to everyone. Now, why this is ok is that the service provider will want to maximize their profits. They will price it so that it does. If you can't afford it, then it isn't my fault and I shouldn't be punished for you not being able to make yourself useful enough to society to be able to demand enough compensation the services that you provide...so that you can afford that service.

    Enough rant. Out.

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