Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On "Net Neutrality": Slow Down

It seems that the blogs are abuzz over the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006" decrying it as "downright frightening," among other things.  The Middle America Progressive calls it "yet another reason for real conservative to stand up and be counted as opposed to George Bush and the budding American Theocracy that the GOP is trying to create."  As you know, I respond positively to having both my ideology and my patriotism called out. 

It's almost as well as I respond to doomsday claims made by those who I would be willing to bet have not even seen a link to the proposed legislation, let alone skimmed the document itself.

Don't bother looking at Thomas.  It's not there: the bill has not been reported out of committee and is apparently not yet linked to any bill previously referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.  But, it is scheduled for markup tomorrow (Wednesday).

I contacted a college buddy who works on Capitol Hill to see if I could get a copy, but he said that is would be available once it was reported out.  Of course, he doesn't work on telecom issues, so he might not have had the most complete information on this bill; he was aware of the bill, but did not have ready access to it.

After a rather involved search, I did find what may be committee print for tomorrow's hearing, but I can't be certain that it is the most recent document.  However, what I also found was that a lot of this furor was derived from the statements (without much variation) of a single consumer advocate who does work on such matters.  I won't be so crass as to call him a special interest lobbyist, except for how that's what he is, isn't he, even if he may be wearing a hat some presumptively deem white?

No, I'd rather just challenge you, dear reader, to find the bill, and put it together for yourself if you are so upset about this.  Find the thoughts of someone who opposes the bill that do not (intentionally or otherwise) state verbatim the statement linked above.  Find the thoughts of someone (pro or con) who actually notes the FCC adjudication mechanism and the $500,000 penalties for each instance of violating Commission's policies protecting consumer choice in broadband service.

Think about it.  If Verizon were to block even 1,000 people from accessing Instapundit or DailyKos, it could face half a billion dollars in penalties.

Am I saying I'm for this bill?  No.  I'm too tired (and still focused on student speech law) to form an opinion on it. 

I'm not about to make a decision on the merits of the bill (with due respect to my friend) based upon the say-so of a Hill staffer who works in other areas and an opposition whose forward guard redlined my B.S. detector within about 30 seconds of reaching their web site.

In short: if you want to call your member of Congress, fine.  But if you are going to tell him or her that the sky Net is falling, you might want to make sure that you haven't been duped by a lobbying group that, based on its niche, has its best fundraising opportunity in months.

And if you are convinced that it all fits: explain it to me.  I'm clearly missing something here if that's the case.

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Blogger His Honor the Mayor said...

As an elected official, I was provided with membership to the Michigan Municipal League (MML) which works in the interest of local municipalities.

The MML is opposed to COPE. I am still asking my contact people for more info, which I hope to have later today.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I read a good article about this issue at Find Law. I agree that its too early to say how this might affect the internet, but as I told Midwestern, I acted preemptively and signed the petition so Washington knows where I stand.

I'm against any censorship, but I'm also against the rumor that companies want to create premium lanes for access. That hurts the people who don't have money for all the extras.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Libby said...

I'm all for erring on the side of caution on this one, as is obvious since I raised the alarm.

I'd rather be the Chicken Little and be wrong than let it slip through for fear of overreacting. Once net neutrality is gone, you aren't likely to get back.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Bostonian Exile said...

I'd rather be the Chicken Little and be wrong than let it slip through for fear of overreacting.

I'd prefer prudence and evidence; even if I'm playing the role of Chicken Little, I'd rather avoid the risk of being mistaken for The Boy Who Cried Wolf when something deservedly disturbing comes to pass.

11:48 AM  

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