Dorgan wants an Internet takeover

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Kelly Cobb
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      Kelly Cobb

      Kelly William Cobb serves as executive director of Americans for Tax Reform’s Digital Liberty Project, an organization dedicated to promoting free-market tech and telecommunications policy. Mr. Cobb also manages www.StopETaxes.com, a campaign to fight Internet taxation.

      Previously, Mr. Cobb served as state affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform, overseeing research and analysis of state telecommunications, e-commerce, and tobacco and alcohol tax policy. He also managed coalition building and outreach. Before joining ATR, Mr. Cobb worked for a trade association dedicated to reforming federal and state agriculture policy, as well as for former U.S. Representative Joseph Knollenberg and the Michigan Republican Party.

      Mr. Cobb is a graduate of the University of Michigan with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Last week, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) gave a keynote speech before a crowd of Internet regulation supporters and stated some amusing falsehoods about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) attempt to take over the Internet. At a summit held by the organization Free Press, Sen. Dorgan claimed that the government developed the Internet, established the rules underpinning net neutrality when it created the Internet, and that the attempt by the FCC to takeover the management of networks is not a government takeover.

Sen. Dorgan is correct that the very first data networks were developed with the Department of Defense and various universities, but the Internet as we know it was not developed by the government. Private businesses and individuals build the data networks, write the software, own the servers and computers, and develop the content and websites. All of these components make up the Internet ecosystem and none of them (sans some websites and military networks) were created or are owned by the government.

Private companies and individuals have spent hundreds of billions of dollars developing our nation’s Internet, including over $60 billion last year alone just to build the networks. The so-called net neutrality regulations that Sen. Dorgan wants would regulate how these data networks are managed. Under them, the FCC would establish rules on “reasonable” network management practices—where the FCC would define “reasonable.”

Sen. Dorgan dismissed the argument by the free-market community that this is a government takeover, claiming “nothing could be further from the truth.” But that’s like saying the government isn’t taking over the auto industry, just telling car companies what models they can and can’t make. That they aren’t taking over health care, just telling insurance companies what plans they can and can’t offer.

Net neutrality is a government takeover. The free-market community isn’t arguing that under these specific regulations the government will now own the industry—though that is the end goal of many net neutrality proponents like Free Press. Opponents argue that under the FCC’s net neutrality regulations the industry becomes the near absolute pawn of the government. When management practices are approved or denied by a government bureaucrat, it is a certainly a government takeover. And when the first of such regulatory steps tap into the very spine of the Internet—the networks on which everything else depends—that opens the door for further regulation and government intrusion.

  • Pingback: Net Neutrality: Obama’s Way of Saying “ShuddupaYourFace!” | RedState

  • Pingback: Net Neutrality is a Government Takeover « Internet Freedom Coalition

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oscar-Ernesto-Regalado/882450296 Oscar Ernesto Regalado

    How is Net Neutrality a government takeover again? If Net Neutrality passes AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner still exist. They still own their lines. They still get to charge whatever they want for internet access. Net Neutrality makes sure that each byte of data gets treated the same no matter where it comes from or what it is. That’s all we want. So how is it a takeover?

    You’re also wrong about the Internet being developed by the private industry. I would conservatively estimate that 80% of the internet is built on Open Source technologies. Those are technologies that were worked on by individuals working for free and distributed freely (that is free as in speech not as in beer).

    You’re also wrong about the internet never having been regulated. DSL Broadband used to be classified as Title II but it was changed by the previous administration to match Cable Broadband.