Cyberbullying . . . and Mighty Entertaining!

by on November 8, 2010 · 1 comment

At, Seton Motley takes the effort to regulate Internet service provision in the name of neutrality and stomps on it with both feet.

If this were high school (and politics really sort of is), Net Neutrality would be sitting alone at lunch — shunned even by the members of the marching band and the audio-visual club. Having had its lunch money taken, it would have only enough for milk (and would sadly be unable to open the container). It would be planning to take its aunt to prom.

His brief, unkind history takes the push for Internet regulation from its bright beginnings in 2006 through a four-year-long fade. It ends with the PR catastrophe the Progressive Change Campaign Committee produced when it signed 95 Democratic candidates onto a “Network Neutrality Pledge” and they all lost.

That fiasco doesn’t reveal anything about the merits of the proposal to turn Internet service providers into federally regulated public utilities. But it is emblematic of the immaturity and amateurishness of the push for net neutrality regulation. The effort never fixed on an actual, defined problem. Instead it rotated through corporate missteps with text message services, with web sites, and sometimes with actual Internet service. The movement was long on slogans and short on concrete proposals.

Proponents of net neutrality regulation never answered the conundrum posed by “regulatory capture”—that the FCC they wanted to “control” ISPs might end up controlled by them. They never countered the point that technologists and marketplace actors would husband the behavior of ISPs, a point made ably by Tim Lee in his paper, The Durable Internet.

Motley caps off his cyberbullying of the Internet regulation effort with an Examiner piece today noting that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee raised a pitiful $300 for its efforts.

[W]ith the PCCC’s feeble efforts and Tuesday’s historic pro-freedom Congressional demographic shift – the free market, free speech assault that is Net Neutrality now lies broken on the ash heap of Internet and tech history. To which we say – good riddance to bad rubbish.

If the push for net neutrality regulation survives, it will have to regroup/grow up, identify a concrete problem and a defensible solution, and then carry that credible message beyond its own echo chamber. All in all, the movement to regulate net neutrality seems to have been “playing at” advocacy rather than seriously advocating.

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