Freedom to connect
: Susan Crawford just put up her opening remarks at last week’s Freedom to Connect meeting. She says we should be very careful asking for government help on the one hand because it could lead to government regulation on the other hand. She, like me, goes against the flow on the question of government regulation of media ownership.
The reality of the internet simply does not depend on the FCC, and the internet’s health doesn’t depend on the telecom act of 2006. We should thank the FCC for allowing competing modems, for which we’re really very grateful, and slap a big gold star on their forehead — and move on. Freeing carriage — net neutrality rules — and regulating media ownership don’t go together.
It seems to me, in fact, that regulating media ownership is inconsistent with insisting on freeing carriage. And dinosaurs need to clump together to avoid the cold winds of change — so consolidation may protect them while not harming us. All commercial regulation leads to the risk that government will be pushed by industries of various kinds to do their bidding….
Running to the government to ask for filters to be taken off implies that they have the power to ask for filters (of various kinds, for various purposes) to be installed. If we’re free, and I think that we are, then we shouldn’t ask for help but should find other routes to do what we want to do.
When the conference was organized, I suggested that the organizing principle should be to ask: What if we had no FCC? When I said that at the conference, introducing First Amendment guru Bob Corn-Revere, I got a few wistful chortles — as if I’d said: What if we still had free sex? In her remarks, Susan does list a few things we do need — antitrust enforcement, for example. But we do not need government regulating speech; the founding fathers specifically said government should not do that and for good reason. But we’ve lost sight of that as we’ve acted as if technology is an exception.