It’s reasonably clear that Internet regulation is now blowing up in our faces: Congressional Democrats are intent on raising the 2015 OIO from the dead, but for reasons that appear to be totally political. Meanwhile, data brokers make hay with our browsing histories and nobody but the Europeans seems to care.
The only reason for Congress to turn the clock back to 2015 is to enjoy the comfort of a well-worn path. This is cowardly and counter-productive; the rank and file should say “no” and demand a more serious approach to Internet regulation from their party leadership.
Privacy is a balancing and line-drawing exercise. Net neutrality is as well, but some of the more combative Democrats don’t see it that way. Perhaps their blindness is willful and perhaps it’s politically-driven. But either way, it’s not doing consumers or the Internet any favors.
Net neutrality was created at a time when the only large firms conducting Internet business were ISPs. It was sensible for lawmakers to focus on ISPs in 2003. But today’s Internet is dominated by non-ISP edge services that routinely abuse personal information. Internet law need to leap forward to the present day.
Net neutrality was promoted by Silicon Valley to take policy makers’ eyes off the massive dossiers of personal data its major players assembled from their platforms. Now that the public is aware of this (very real) behavior, the claims of possible harms to consumers from the lack of net neutrality regulations are much less compelling.
If you’re a fan of books on tech and tech policy this is a particularly good time for you because so much new stuff is hot off the presses. Here’s a short list of the books in my reading queue at the moment, along with a couple of longish journal articles.
Creating a network that can be all things to all people was a monumental undertaking. Making it work for every user in the most reliable, safe, and economical way is even harder. I happily shared the Amicus Brief with Larry last October that was influenced so heavily by his work on Telenet; and I was glad that it pleased him.
We need clarity about our antitrust standards as they apply to the Internet, safeguards for personal data, and reverse auctions to bring better broadband to rural America. None of that is terribly sexy, but it’s all important.
While the number of legitimate comments filed with the FCC – probably closer to 500,000 than to the 800,000 claimed by CIS – indicates a high level of public engagement in the issue, it would be a mistake to conclude that net neutrality will be a significant campaign issue.