Presidential Candidate Lawrence Lessig’s Far Left Net Neutrality Agenda

Scott Cleland | Chairman, NetCompetition

Egalitarian political activist Larry Lessig is running for president of the United States to the left of Bernie Sanders, ostensibly on the singular platform of campaign finance reform.

What’s really going on?

His candidacy’s purported single purpose of “citizen equality” is really a Trojan horse attempt to prohibit corporate contributions to political campaigns, so government can produce a more egalitarian society.  

The political agenda hidden inside Mr. Lessig’s Trojan horse candidacy is network neutrality.

Net neutrality is the tech egalitarian notion that “all bits are created equal” meaning government must ban commercial Internet traffic discrimination so that the Internet can become an egalitarian commons.

Mr. Lessig and his far left elite cohort envision the Internet and digital technology as a historical hinge, a massive political opportunity to create a more egalitarian world, via government mandates that the Internet and digital technology be programmed to automatically produce egalitarian, not commercial, outcomes.

Professor Lessig’s first books: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, The Future of Ideas – The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, and Free Culture – How Big Media Use Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Creativity, are his collective manifesto that computer code is law and it must be neutral/egalitarian, not commercial.  

Frustrated that commercial interests oppose his utopian vision of a non-commercial Internet commons, Mr. Lessig has become obsessed with campaign finance reform as a means to defund his political opponents.  

Two big ironies come with Mr. Lessig’s quixotic candidacy.

First it is ironic that the FCC’s March decision to implement President Obama’s call for net neutrality via regulating ISPs as public telephone utilities, is a policy u-turn from President Clinton’s 1994 bipartisan Internet policy to commercialize the Internet, which enabled the Internet to grow into the hugely successful marketplace we know today.

At least part of the reason Mr. Lessig is running for president, is because he knows the partisan net neutrality gains enjoyed at the FCC are at serious risk of defunding from Congress, of overturning in court, and/or reversal by a potential Republican President in 2017.

Second it is ironic is that Presidential candidate Lessig, who is running against the alleged “corruption” of politics by non-transparent, big moneyed interests, actually used non-transparent, big moneyed interests to achieve his partisan net neutrality outcome at the FCC.

How did net neutrality, an idea spawned by Mr. Lessig’s 1999 book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, become the de facto law of the land sixteen years later, via a partisan FCC decision in March by three unelected commissioners, over the strong majority opposition of a publicly-elected Congress?

Could big moneyed interests be behind Mr. Lessig’s plan to dictate egalitarian laws of cyberspace?

As it turns out, a January 2015 study by the Media Research Center showed that just two entities were responsible for $196m in funding for pro-net neutrality groups between 2000 and 2013, the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

During that period, Mr. Lessig was on the boards of three pro-net neutrality organizations which enjoyed generous funding from big moneyed interests, Public Knowledge from 2002-2007, FreePress from 2007-2009, and the Sunlight Foundation from 2008 to present.

Since the Sunlight Foundation’s purported purpose is to make “politics more accountable and transparent to all” have Mr. Lessig or the Sunlight Foundation brought any sunlight to the big moneyed interests, like the Ford Foundation, Soro’s Open Society Foundation, Google and Netflix, who are responsible for helping get a partisan majority of unelected FCC commissioners to mandate net neutrality over the objections of a publicly-elected Congress?  

Let me suggest a couple accountability questions for a candidate like Mr. Lessig running exclusively in opposition to the “corruption” of hidden big moneyed interests in American politics.

Since your website says: “a core corruption of our political system is the concentration of funders of political campaigns, [and] that concentration creates extraordinary inequality,” was the FCC’s partisan net neutrality decision in March corrupted by the extraordinary concentration of pro-net neutrality funding from just three entities: The Ford and Open Society Foundations and Google?

Do your definitions of “public corruption” and “inequality” depend on whether you agree or disagree with political funders’ policy positions?  

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, some of which are Google competitors, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.   

Tags : fcc lawrence lessig net neutrality scott cleland
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