Techies’ blind spot: Those concerned about who will rule the Internet should be most concerned about government 6/8/08Posted by Steve Boriss in Control.
There’s a lot of fear-mongering these days about who will rule the Internet, like this article in Time Magazine. On one hand, there are misguided fears among newspapers and ad agencies that Google will swallow-up all media as we know it. On the other hand, there is the opposite — those singing Google’s praises as a force for open standards, avoiding the proprietary standards for which so many resent Microsoft. And, if we had an extra left hand, there are the ‘60’s lefty dinosaurs like PBS’ Bill Moyers and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps who continue their mantra about the dangers of evil corporate empires controlling our speech, despite the fact that Internet competition makes this decades-old fantasy/nightmare more far-fetched than ever.
But what is most disappointing is what the tech community has not yet grasped. Paraphrasing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only potential Internet-ruling party we need to fear is government itself. Doesn’t anyone realize that the federal government has been ruling the broadcast spectrum in the same way we don’t want them to rule the Internet – deciding through licensing procedures who has a voice and what they can say? Yet, the techie prevailing wisdom, even among the best-and-brightest at Microsoft and Google, are welcoming the government to regulate the now unregulated Internet under the unnecessary and benign-sounding banner of “net neutrality,” a camel’s-nose-under-the-tent that will inevitably lead to chilled speech. Let’s hope that the liberal arts majors prevail upon the heads-in-laptop techies before we have lost the Internet’s promise of historically unprecedented free speech.