President Obama's State Of The Union: Praises Open Internet... Complains About Terrorists Using Open Internet
from the and-so-it-goes dept
We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.The second mention comes a few paragraphs down, when he suddenly whines about terrorists using that very same open internet:
Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.Both points have an element of truth in them, but the whole thing seems pretty silly. If you have an open internet, then part of the point is that anyone can use it — even people you don't like. Fighting ISIS and other terrorists is certainly important, but even mentioning the fact that they use the internet is silly. Some of them drive cars too. It's not really all that relevant.
Beyond that, there really wasn't much related to stuff that we're interested in around here. It talks about bringing back our innovative spirit (did it really go away?), but (unlike in past States of the Union) chooses not to mention patent reform (even though the President's suggested reforms haven't gone anywhere).
It's silly to expect too much from the State of the Union Address, which gets a lot more buzz than it's worth, but as a first pass, the idea that the two mentions of the internet contradict each other more or less summed up one of the big problems with the way this administration has treated the internet. It tends to talk out of both sides of its mouth on these issues, and never really take a stand. There truly are a number of really great people working in the White House on tech policy, looking to maintain a free and open internet, but there are plenty of others who are trying to undermine it, and to give in to FUD about the "dangers" of an open internet. It's a bit disappointing that the President never really came out with a strong leadership position on this and made it clear that we're not going to undermine a free and open internet out of fear -- but instead continues to give lip service to the free and open internet, while hinting at a willingness to toss it out the window.