Just as conservatives rightfully fear the power of the government to stop certain types of speech or economic activity and try to limit that power, we should likewise fear the power of network operators to control the new soapbox in the public square – the Internet.
Just as we shouldn’t want the government monitoring or blocking the free flow of mail through the postal system, we shouldn’t want the USPS of the 21st century – the network operators – to do that same thing.
We should be concerned about the power of the broadband network operators to control speech and economic activity over the Internet, and be willing to support some modest, limited countervailing check on their power when it is abused.
This month, Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, President Bush’s appointee to the Federal Communications Commission, took a major step in protecting freedom and fostering continued economic innovation on the Internet.
When Comcast used their power to block access to one type of software which they arbitrarily wanted to prevent consumer access to, the FCC, under Martin’s leadership, wisely stepped in with a light-touch approach. The action of the FCC didn’t rely on overbroad rulemaking. It merely said that no company could arbitrarily use their power to prevent consumers from accessing the content and applications of their choice under the guise of managing their networks.
This is an important precedent, and will lay down a marker to prevent overreaching by network operators in the future. While it might seem strange for a conservative to support regulatory action like this, I strongly believe this was a critical and necessary step to protect both our values and our access to the most important network in the world.
Now more than ever, conservatives need content neutral access to the Internet because it presents us with a way of communicating and building power without having to rely on the mainstream media and being subject to the liberal bias of the networks and national newspapers.
The FCC’s decision is an important step to ensure that our access to a free Internet will be preserved, that our ability to communicate will remain open and that the Internet can continue to grow.