Conservative tech policy goal: ramp up IP enforcement
This is an excellent post at Ars Technica calling into question some core assumptions involved in the “conservative” view of tech policy expressed by Marsha Blackburn at the State of the Net conference earlier this week.
I would just add that it is very strange to say the FCC’s simple net neutrality rules constitute “regulating the Internet,” while extraordinary measures like COICA are just “traditional protection of private property.” In reality, it’s the other way around. Net neutrality rules are simple rules of the road that create a healthy, fair, and open market for ideas as well as for products and services. They are equivalent to the basic law-and-order rules that conservatives favor in the physical world; even pols who want to abolish the department of education agree that we need public roads.
COICA, on the other hand, lets government truly “regulate the Internet” by deciding which sites are visible to Internet users, and doing so in a way that is likely to block more speech and commerce than is necessary to enforce copyright law.
Opposition to network neutrality and support for COICA do make sense if your goal is to favor big incumbent businesses over small businesses, non-profits, and users. While this is often the preference of established politicians, it seems inconsistent with the view of government espoused by conservatives and the ascendant ‘tea party’ movement. In theory, these groups are opposed to the government playing favorites in the market, support fundamental liberties like free speech, and are suspicious of bailouts. Their principles should lead them to exactly the opposite conclusions from those drawn by Rep. Blackburn: they should support net neutrality, and oppose COICA.