Is The Commerce Department Really Ready To Regulate The Internet?
from the rethinking-things dept
In his mind, "Internet Policy 3.0" would be about ensuring users of the Internet are able to trust others that they deal with. This is certainly an issue to be dealt with. And he then lists out five areas where such concerns should take precedence: Privacy, Child Protection and Freedom of Expression, Cybersecurity, Copyright and Internet Governance. Obviously, I'm not convinced that things like copyright really need much more government intervention (there's been plenty, thank you very much), but some of the other ones are interesting issues where you could see a government role.
The problem, of course, is what happens when you actually open these up to regulatory interference. Suddenly, they become political footballs. We've seen this with copyright, where it's become a case of regulatory capture -- laws are pushed to protect entrenched interests, rather than to support what copyright is supposed to do (promoting the progress).
Rather than adopting some of the more hysterical responses to this speech, the CDT put out a well-thought-out response, that suggests that Strickling hopefully misspoke, or really meant to say something slightly different, along the lines of admitting that there are real policy issues impacting the internet, and the government has always needed to deal with those challenges. But, in doing so, it may need to rethink how it approaches some of those issues.
Indeed, in reading the speech, it doesn't sound like he's really pushing for a change towards suddenly massively regulating the internet. Instead, I read it as him realizing that these issues -- which, for the most part, the government is already active in regulating -- now present some different challenges due to the nature of what's happening on line. Given that, the US needs to think carefully through its policies and how they impact the internet. At least, I hope that's what he meant.
While there are certainly problems online, opening them up directly to regulatory control risks turning them into tools of special interests, rather than letting things develop in the most efficient manner. There are risks and dangers online, but if there needs to be any policy towards online activities, it should use a very light touch.