The Washington Post gives Larry Lessig a soap box from which to spew his drivel today, just in time for the floor vote on the COPE Act. It’s the same story he’s been telling for five years, all about toll booths, gatekeepers, and extortion, complete with a fictitious history of the Internet. Fear-and-smear is what he does for a living, and this Op-Ed is a classic example.
Most of it is blatantly counter-factual, and had he posted it on his blog, it would have been ripped apart like his latest posting on the insane regulatory scheme he’s proposing. Just go look.
Lessig doesn’t understand how the Internet works today and how it needs to work tomorrow in order to keep up with user demands, so he’s blind to the damage that his unprecedented regulations will cause to the nation if they’re enacted.
For the record, here’s the relevant bill text:
If a broadband network provider prioritizes or offers enhanced quality of service to data of a particular type, it must prioritize or offer enhanced quality of service to all data of that type (regardless of the origin or ownership of such data) without imposing a surcharge or other consideration for such prioritization or enhanced quality of service.
Lessig says this is the same ordinary common carrier law that’s governed the Internet from the beginning, but can’t account for the fact that FedEx and DHL are able to offer priority service for a fee under common carrier regulations today.
These apocalyptic fantasies are appealing to conspiracy theorists, but there’s no connection between any real threat facing the Internet and the regulations his irresponsible crusaders are proposing. The “net neutrality” amendment his people want would ban Quality of Service discrimination that’s vital to voice and video over wireless networks, good engineering practices that are widely used today with good results. This would turn the clock back on the development of broadband in America by at least ten years and prevent future innovation.
Nobody should fall for this crap.