Posted by: maverickwhig | January 17, 2010

Uncle Sam’s Bombastic (USB) Drive

Originally written 9 November, 2009

You walk into your desk room one morning to read your email. As you turn the PC on, you notice the glaring logo on the screen that lightly burns your eyes. It reads “Federal Communications Commission Legal, Neutral Network.” you’re very happy at reading this due to the fact that you had just passed the exam for the federal and state network use permits last week. You get the same feeling you had when you got your driver’s license or when you turned 21 and could drink. As you read your email, you see that your cousin has sent you something, you open it. Her message tells you about this new software released a month ago. It’s a new firewall that finds spam and redirects it at the spammer in the network. It has gotten a lot of praise and recommendation. You download it, thinking this is your first smart move as an alert, licensed network user. The downloader reaches 100%, and the install program opens. After about fifteen minutes of installing the program, the PC inexplicably shuts off. You’re confused, what has happened to your computer? Most importantly, what did you do wrong? All the sudden, the power line to your house is cut off; you hear a loud bang and the sound of boots running up the stairs of your house. The door to your desk room is broken off the hinges with an ax, assault rifles and handguns burst into the room, directed at you. “Federal Agents! Put your hands in the air!” You comply; they cuff you and haul your PC away. Later in the week, you are charged and convicted of disrupting a ‘free’ and ‘neutral’ network of the FCC. You spend the next six years in federal lock up and the twenty years after that on parole.

As the Internet has progressed, it has become one of the largest, and probably most important, things that ever occurred in history. It is a network, upon another network, upon another network, upon another chain of networks that eventually adds up to one large clustered network… of networks. It has morphed into the last bastion of free speech, laissez faire capitalism, and the private sector. But, there is an issue, what is better for freedom on the Internet, neutrality or competition? Will government regulation ‘save’ the Internet, or would continued privatization preserve our freedom? This is another classic political war between the private and public sectors. But what is the reality of this situation? Well, the reality is, a private, unregulated Internet has worked in the past, is still working in our present, and will keep working to improve our lives in the future. As a matter of fact, as it currently is, a free and unregulated

Internet could improve our economy, and possibly even get us out of this recession. More succinctly, capitalism, or specifically the idea of individual rights to life, liberty, and property, has always been the best economic and social system and the Internet is sheer proof of that.

One side of this argument, the regulation crowd, has cried for years about ‘saving’ (or what they believe to be saving) our freedom on the Internet. In their thinking process, their deviated version of logic informs them that since we need to save the Internet, we should just make everything ‘neutral’ (because neutral is just a really nice sounding word that conjures up thoughts of peace doves and hallucinating ‘free love’ hippies dancing to The Mamas & Papas). The following statement, made a week after the FCC had overstepped its bounds concerning the Internet, shows the true nature of regulation crowd argument “As the Internet continues to evolve, we are now faced with a choice. Can we preserve this wildly successful medium and the freedom it embodies, or do we permit a few large corporations to fundamentally alter how the Internet has historically functioned? Do we retain a level playing field or do we allow the imposition of new fees and the artificial creation of slow lanes and fast lanes for content providers on the Internet?” (Markey). However, even though Mr. Markey is fearful of these corporations ‘altering’ how the Internet fundamentally functions, he does not remind us of how all the big corporations like Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, Vonage, Microsoft, eBay, and many others are all in favor of net neutrality. So then, as we can see, instead of investment by everyone on the Internet, we would get investment of an elite few corporations (that the government has approved of) on the Internet. Can this be called neutrality?

The other side, the anti-regulation crowd, disagrees completely. To paraphrase Proudhon, competition is the mother of neutrality. Competition is trying to make a better product or provide a better service then everyone else so that people will want to buy your work. They enjoy the work you have made, and you enjoy what your work has earned you. This is a simple trader principle. Competition is freedom, forced neutrality is not. We have been fine on the Internet without government regulation. Opponents to net neutrality say views like Congressman Markey’s are “Setting a new international example of government Net interference rather than restraint.” (NetCompetition.org)

Complete deregulation, along with more privatization of the Internet and the gradual creation of a cyber-centric market economy are what this country, and the world, needs. Complete deregulation creates more freedom for users of the internet to create, share, sell, and buy in a stable market with vast choice and possibility. More privatization of Internet based services can create new jobs for those who need them, and possibly decrease the unemployment rate. All of this could possibly lead us to a cyber-centric market economy. Since the Internet has shown signs of increasing prosperity over the years, a market based off of the cyber world would boost our economy from recession to stability, without need of government bailouts or stimulus plans. All around, the free, unregulated, privatized Internet makes everything better for anyone.

With its prosperity, with its ability to better our daily and long term lives, the Internet is proof that a free market, a capitalist system works. The Internet will strive on because of capitalism into the decades, and even centuries. The Internet however will die in government regulation and control. The government, or anyone for that matter, posses no right to force its way onto something that we’ve all labored with by our own means and take complete, overriding control.

How would the government ‘control’, the Internet anyways? It’s a multi-national entity, spans the globe, reaching every nationality. So how can the government take control over something that is literally everywhere, much like oxygen? I feel they simply think too highly of themselves. I mean, the Internet is already regulated in a way. The Internet Society, The Internet Architecture Board, Internet Engineering Task Force, InterNIC, PFIR-People for Internet Responsibility, and ICANN.org all have a hand in deciding how Internet related issues are handled (Boswell). But these are not overly bureaucratic government regulators; they are more like private industry ethics boards. More proof that the Internet is fine by itself. On another note, I’d like to point out that the Internet isn’t always that capitalistic. For example, read this statement back in 2001, “The users of the internet are spoiled rotten and expect that most everything on the internet not actually delivered by UPS, should be free. It is human nature to expect good things to continue despite clear signs of change. I was amused to read the reaction of some Napster users who, upon hearing that Napster is changing its economic model to a fee based version, lamented that they would have to search for another way to continue to download music for free. Napster is facing the fact that the rules of intellectual property laws extend to the internet.” (Mills). Piracy is a known coercive evil on the Internet, and it should be stopped. It is not a result of the Internet’s lack of control; rather it is a result of a careless individual’s lack of respect for property rights, even intellectual ones.

Works Cited

Boswell, Wendy. “Internet Regulation.” About.com. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <http://www.websearch.about.com/od/whatistheinternet/a/internetrules.htm>.

“CAN-SPAM.” FCC.Gov. Federal Communications Comission, 11 Aug. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/canspam.html>.

Gentile, Carmen. “Cybrer Vigilantes Track Extremist Websites, Intelligence Experts Balk At Effort.” FoxNews.com. 22 Mar. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,340613,00.html>.

“How The FCC Would Change The Internet.” NetCompetition.org. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <www.netcompetition.org/how_the_fcc_is_changing_internet.pdf>.

Markey, Representative Ed. “Time for Net Neutrality.” SaveTheInternet.com. 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <www.savetheinternet.com/blog/09/10/30/time-net-neutrality>.

Mills, Greg. “The Future of Capitalism On The Internet.” Ipfrontline.com. 10 Feb. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. <www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.asp?id=315&deptid=5>.

Disclaimer:

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions, policies, or strategies of The Libertarian Defense Caucus or any individual Caucus member thereof.

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