Confusion abounds about where the government should and should not be involved with the Internet.
It really isn’t that complicated. Apply old principles to these new problems, and the government’s proper Web role becomes readily apparent.
Where Government Has No Internet Role
The Internet has rapidly developed into a free speech, free market Xanadu – without any sort of Net Neutrality regulations in place. About which the pro-Net Neutrality Left is willfully, stridently ignorant . And is stultified into incoherence when this absence of regulations is pointed out to them.
Private companies have spent hundreds of billions of their own dollars to build the ‘Net – and make this Web revolution possible.
Old Principle: This is no different than any other sector of the private economy where private money is spent on development.
The government doesn’t dictate to shopping malls how they can manage the traffic to their various stores. The government doesn’t prohibit stores from advertising within the mall to (hopefully) drive more folks their way.
Private property is private property – whether it is brick-and-mortar or virtual. And free speech is free speech.
The government has no Constitutional authority for Network Neutrality – period.
Where Government Has an Internet Role
Private Property Protection
Old Principle: Government stops thieves. Government does as much as it can – within Constitutional parameters – to do so.
If forty years ago I had a record store – or twenty years ago a compact disc (CD) store – and someone was stealing my inventory and then selling it, the government would have worked to desist them.
Case in point: The uber-larceny website MegaUpload.com and its illegal impresario Kim Dotcom.
The group was accused of engaging in a scheme that took more than $500 million away from copyright holders and generated over $175 million in proceeds from subscriptions and advertising….
Oh, is that all? But surely this blatant mega-stealing is universally opposed, right?
Hmmm. Well surely no one of high-level legitimacy justifies this sort of mega-fraud, right?
…Apple founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak…visited Dotcom in New Zealand recently….
“When governments dream up charges of ‘racketeering’ for a typical IT guy who is just operating a file-sharing service, or accuse him of mail fraud because he said he had removed files [to alleged infringing content] when he’d just removed the links to them, this is evidence of how poorly thought out the attempt to extradite him is.
“Prosecutors are attempting to take advantage of loopholes. Too bad for the U.S. government that DotCom lives in New Zealand, which is better on human rights.”
One wonders if “Woz” would be so dismissive were Dotcom ripping $500+ million worth of Apple product. Wait – we have that answer: Apple goes to town to protect their intellectual property whenever it feels it’s threatened.
Woz does inadvertently swerve into a point about the law – it needs to be updated. We must apply the old principle – government stopping thieves – to the new Tech problem.
But when Congress first tried, it was not the answer:
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)-Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)…(took) a bipartisan beating. Conservatives…joined with Leftists to savage the bill….
I too…opposed…this iteration of SOPA – it remain(ed) too overly broad.
Something similar and more finely, sharply crafted – must become law. And conservatives will need to reorient themselves when a better version of the bill comes along – and support it.
We await that better bill.
Many Leftists/Libertarians may remain stridently pro-theft. But most Americans are not.
They are genuinely interested in the rule of law, protecting private property – and not paying prices dramatically inflated by online heists.
Again demonstrating that they inherently know when the government should be involved in the Internet – and when it should not.