Internet issues in their political context

It will take serious institutional support to navigate all this on behalf of edge control and economic growth, support we can only get from tech companies such as Google, Intel, IBM, Apple, Sun and Microsoft, which stand to gain most from an open Internet. Will we get it?

Blogsrobots, illustration from freethink.org
As I wrote yesterday (and have written before) the Internet and choices surrounding it are becoming a subtext to the 2008 political campaign.

Also, open source depends on an open Internet to succeed.

So it makes sense to give you the lay of the land. (Illustration from the English blog Freethink.)

There are three political parties in America today. They are, in order of size:

  1. The Republican Party, which currently holds power.
  2. The Washington Democratic party, which formerly held power; and
  3. The Netroots Party, which seeks power.

Of these three, only the Netroots Party agrees with Internet advocates on issues like network neutrality, open spectrum, and open access. Republicans put us where we are. Washington Democrats began that process a decade ago.

History tells me that, over the long run, the Netroots Party will achieve power, and that Internet questions will be addressed. But it will take time.

Some 40 years ago, anyone saying movement conservatives would rule unchallenged would have been called crazy, too. But growing movements which achieve scale are always heard in time. This is a feature of democracy, not a bug.

Can the Internet wait for this long run?

The monopolization of the core, of local access, and of wireless services is already well along.

The excuses for exerting political control over what sites you are permitted to see, what protocols you are permitted to use, are already established. Terrorism! Child porn! Theft of copyright!

The reasons for resisting this are all reasons of principle, which AT&T and its apologists will deride as ideology or worse (in their view) regulation.

Advocates of the open Internet will also resist supporting Netroots advocates because they have other principles beyond the Internet. Many, in fact, are liberals.

It will take serious institutional support to navigate all this on behalf of edge control and economic growth, support we can only get from tech companies such as Google, Intel, IBM, Apple, Sun and Microsoft, which stand to gain most from an open Internet.

Will we get it?

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All