Freedom Cuffs vs. Net Neutrality

October 22, 2009

I was going to throw some thoughts up on Twitter about the “Internet Freedom Act of 2009” that John McCain has introduced but my thoughts were too plentiful for 140 characters.  Upon reading this article on Mashable about the bill, my first reaction was hardly a reaction at all.  It doesn’t surprise me to see the telecommunication industry is still trying to battle against net neutrality.  What started to bother me was the fact that John McCain introduced this bill and gave it such an inaccurate name.

So why does it bother me that John McCain introduced this bill?  Simple, he knows next to nothing about the subject.  In an interview last year he stated:

I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.

I applaud him for learning and making progress, but if you’re going to propose a bill that changes a core principal of how something functions don’t you think you should have a bit more experience with the subject at hand?  This isn’t a Holiday Inn Express commercial, you can’t jump into the scene and be an expert.

Another thing that bothers me is one of the reasons McCain states for introducing the bill.  He fears that forcing the telecommunications industry to treat all information (requests) online equally will “stifle innovation”.  This just flat out doesn’t make any sense to me.  Can anyone honestly believe that the online industry is having problems innovating?  Look at how much has changed in the last 20 years in regard to information dissemination.  Somehow we’ve managed to fundamentally change communications across the globe while having net neutrality in place and McCain fears that the innovation will stop if net neutrality continues?

Another thing that bothers me is the use of “Freedom” in the title of the bill.  I’m a believer that the title of something should be somewhat indicative of its contents.  Handcuffs aren’t called “freedom cuffs” because they are the antithesis of freedom and for all of the companies and individuals that operate on the internet this bill would be the equivalent of handcuffs (in that your movement is hindered).

I suspect that bills today are given titles that busy people have a hard time going against when making a knee jerk decision.  “Internet Freedom Act”, “Patriot Act”, “Marriage Protection Act”, they all conjure up emotions while masking their true intentions.  So if someone hasn’t read the details of a bill, the hope is that they will just vote based off of the name.

Being someone who is working on an internet based startup, it brings me great comfort that (for the time) I won’t have to pay the telecommunications industry to prioritize my traffic.  What enters your mind when you think of an organization saying, “if you don’t pay us more money we’re going to make it hard for your business to operate”?  I don’t know about you but I get this image of the mob or a gang demanding “protection” money.  And to think, senator McCain would like to make it legal for the telecommunications industry to do just that.

Anyway, enough ranting, I’ve got innovating to do.

Update: According to this Reuters article, John McCain is the largest recipient of campaign contributions made by the telecommunications and ISP industries over the last two years.  Coming in with a total of $894,379, he has been given more than twice the amount of money than any other legislator.  Please excuse me, I just puked on my desk.


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