GOP Adopts "Internet Freedom" Plank
The GOP has adopted a "Protecting Internet Freedom" plank for the Republican platform. While most of the language is too vague and general to draw conclusions about how exactly a Republican administration would go about addressing the issues, there are a few statements that are worth closer consideration.
- We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations.
This statement refers to the recent discussions to have the UN take over regulation of the Internet. Supported mainly by Russia and China, these efforts would hand over control of regulation of the Internet to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Most major U.S. Internet companies have made public statements saying UN control of the Internet would be bad for business.
2. [The FCC] has conducted no auction of spectrum, has offered no incentives for investment, and, through the FCC’s net neutrality rule, is trying to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.
The Net Neutrality discussion is a long and complicated one that essentially pits the best interests of large cable companies against start-up Internet companies and consumers. As PCWorld points out, the FCC's Net Neutrality rule had three benefits for consumers:
- Add transparency to how broadband providers--both wired and wireless--manage networks.
- Prohibit wired broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices. Wireless providers are also barred from blocking lawful websites or applications that compete with voice or video services.
- Forbid wired broadband providers from discriminating in the transmission of lawful network traffic.
The GOP plank implies a Republican administration would eliminate the FCC, and Net Neutrality in the process, and replace it with "a more modern relationship with the federal government."
Some statements about protecting privacy and personal information from "government overreach" are difficult to judge without an action plan, but seem to propose the status quo will continue to be debated in Congress and in court.
The National Journal reports some Democrats have been looking to adopt a similar plank, but with the promise of protecting network neutrality.