Thursday, January 6, 2011

Highlights from American for Prosperity's Internet Freedom Symposium

I attended an outstanding symposium on January 6, 2010 for right-leaning bloggers by Americans for Prosperity discussing the proposed Net Neutrality legislation. Speakers included AFP's Phil Kerpen, Jon Henke from Digital Society, Larry Spiwak from the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, Jim Harper from the CATO Institute, and Seton Motley of Newsbusters and Carolyn Brandon. (AFP's Phil Kerpen and Herman Cain pictured in photo to right)

Net Neutrality is a "solution" in search of a "problem." Net Neutrality would give the government power to regulate the cost of accessing the internet - prohibiting cable and telephone companies from restricting content or access (so for example, users who are heavily using the internet downloading or uploading massive amounts of video could not be charged more, and everyone would be prohibited from paying more for faster service).

Kerpen said that Net Neutrality is being pushed by a bunch of astroturf left wing organizations like Free Press as well as Marxist professors, although they're trying to fake that it's a grassroots effort. They use attractive Hollywood actors and actresses as spokespersons in order to manipulate people on this issue. Congressional Democrats whine that it's necessary because "women and minorities' voices are not being heard."

Kerpen informed us that Google is one of the biggest proponents behind Net Neutrality, since they own YouTube, one of the biggest bandwidth users on the internet. Erik Telford, AFP's social media director, refers to Google as the Haliburton of the Obama administration. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has bought a huge buy of google search results for "Obamacare" and directed them to the Health and Human Services website. Wonder how much taxpayers' money that used?

John Fund wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal exposing the left wing interests who are really behind Net Neutrality. The FCC heavily relied upon the reports of several left wing interest groups in order to justify their push for Net Neutrality, mostly ignoring analysis from standard, reputable think tanks. The reality is, there isn't a problem. People aren't reporting massive complaints with their internet cable companies.

The truth is that increased regulation will increase costs and deter investment. The FCC relies on a propaganda report from Free Press which says it won't - but that report has been refuted by Ph.D Economists.

The FCC has issued an order justifying Net Neutrality rules. The FCC is overstretching their authority by delving into this area. Disturbingly, they have waived the fee for complaints.

Jon Henke expressed concern to the group of techie right-leaning bloggers present that there are no tech leaders on the right fighting this. The left has plenty of experts, but there is no real tech advocacy group on the right. We need more tech advocacy organizations on the right in order to combat this.

Jim Harper from the CATO Institute discussed proposed "Do Not Track" legislation, which is sort of an internet version of "Do Not Call" telephone legislation. It sounds like a good idea, but the legislation is designed to protect us from the corporate sector, while government is allowed to run roughshod over our privacy. Unfortunately, some Congressmen who are strong privacy advocates are joining forces with pro-regulatory Congressmen on this, thinking this is the way to protect privacy.

Harper said the European Union is looking into updating its Data Protection Directive of 1995. The proposed changes would require websites to delete their past history of interaction with visitors or customers if requested. This would be very costly and hurt business. And it's not about privacy; Europe is not into protecting privacy, it's goal is to hurt the U.S. and multinational corporations.

An FCC source admitted that the FCC creating rules for mergers that have nothing to do with mergers. Their goal is to create policy through regulation. This is disturbing - policy at this important level should be created by Congress.

Regarding the left wing organizations promoting Net Neutrality, Seton Motley pointed out that the abbreviation of Public Interest Groups is P.I.G. He expressed surprise that Brent Bozell, a leading conservative on the right, is supporting Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is an assault on the industry to effect an ideological outcome.

Seton said there are two key components of Net Neutrality: Paid Prioritization and Non-Discrimination. The left opposes the former and supports the latter. His video explaining what's wrong with Net Neutrality is here. It's not that we're not for any government action, we just prefer Congress to the FCC regulating here.

Wireless expert Carolyn Brandon said that Free Press wants the FCC to investigate MetroPCS simply because they want to offer unlimited broadband for $40/mth! About as ridiculous, AARP complained recently that there are TOO MANY choices in the wireless industry. There is no physical spectrum shortage in wireless, the spectrum is unlimited. It's the government that is artificially limiting wireless carriers' space. It's a regulatory-driven shortage. That is what needs to be fixed.

For more updates from the symposium today, check out the Twitter hashtag #novspeaks

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