How would an open Internet stifle innovation? Of course the network operators are opposing this regulation because it mostly affects them. These new regulations would actually open up more opportunities, content, applications, and services to the general public, but the operators would have less control over what people could do with the Internet. Currently, there are five companies that own a controlling interest in the media. These five companies risk losing a lot of the control they have over the general public. Right now, people are restricted from accessing certain sites and uploading certain information, but these potential proposals could provide more access and capabilities for individuals.
It is misleading to call these new proposals "regulations", and it should be specified that they are regulations on the network management, not the Internet itself. Normally regulations control the media in the opposite way that the FCC is proposing here because regulations often mean that network operators cannot show certain information. In this case, the Internet is going to be more open to the general public, and the operators will lose some control. One individual who is against these regulations is Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). He is saying that the net neutrality rules “would stifle innovation and hurt the job market”, but I don’t see how this is true. As the Internet companies point out, the proposals would actually increase innovation because people would have more opportunities in the online world. It would also not hurt the job market, unless the job market is specifically located in the network operator control offices. I think this is just a way for McCain to rival up people against “government regulation and control” in general. He is spinning these regulations in a direction that they aren’t actually going in order to gain public support against them. These regulations would add to the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, they don’t take away from it—even ask Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) or Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California).
The news article that provided the above information came from CNN.com, which is owned by one of the five network operators (Time Warner). I also read an article about this same topic from NYTimes.com and it simply stated the facts about the network neutrality that the chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, has laid out so far. It pointed out that the networks are worried about losing control and raised concerns about specific services that the operators can now control, but it was much more factual than the CNN article. NYTimes.com is not listed under the ownership of any of the five network operators.
There are issues that weren’t mentioned in either article that need to be addressed when developing the regulations. There is general talk about how they will allow for the general public to have more access to the internet, but what about safety and security? What about governmental sites that are supposed to be private, secret, or confidential? What about personal sites? What about copyrights on information? I don’t think the issue here is about hurting innovation or the job market, but instead about safety, security, and privacy. Since the regulations have not actually been written, I am curious if they will take these issues into account. Will every person be able to access any site and any information about anyone? If so, they should reconsider opening up the Internet too much. I agree that the networks should have less control of the sites, but people should still be assured that their personal information will not be made public unless they want it to be.
Marguerite Reardon. “Net neutrality faces political, legal hurdles”. 10/24/09. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/24/net.neutrality.politics/
Saul Hansell. “F.C.C Begins Drafting Rules on Network Neutrality”. 10/22/09.
“Ownership Chart: The Big Six”. Free Press. http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main