Congrats to Harold Feld

DC wonks are by now aware that Harold Feld has left MAP and joined Public Knowledge as Legal Director. While there’s no doubt that Harold is a card-carrying communist, he’s my favorite pinko so I’m glad to see he’s secured gainful employment. With any luck, he can slap a little sense into the more fanatical members of the PK staff and make them act a little bit more like adults. So congrats, Harold, and good luck to you. A little, anyway.

Speaking of communists, check this breath-taking exercise in spin at Technology Liberation Front. Tim Lee trots out that sick “GNU/Linux operating system” trope. Nope, GNU and Linux are two different things created by two different communities under very different assumptions. The FSF tried to create its own OS for many years and failed, but Torvalds did it right away because he’s a brainy and practical dude. Don’t count in fire-breathing ideologues to create your technology for you, there will be so many strings attached you won’t want to use it.

4 thoughts on “Congrats to Harold Feld”

  1. Harold Feld has already been doing work for Public Knowledge (which in turn is an “astroturf” front for GoogleClick) for quite some time now. And Harold and Public Knowledge founder Gigi Sohn are expected to be key players in a (probably futile) attempt to uphold the FCC’s illegal decision against Comcast this summer. So, Feld’s move is really not much of a surprise nor is it much of a change from what he has been doing: lobbying for corporate interests while claiming that he’s serving the public interest. As for slapping sense into the people at PK: Do not count on it. He and they are drinking the same heavily drugged Kool-Aid.

    As for the GNU/Linux business: Yes, “GNU” software is managed by Richard Stallman’s “Free Software Foundation,” whose purpose is to destroy opportunities for commercial software developers (whom Stallman regards as evil; see Steven Levy’s book “Hackers” for the details).

    Linux, on the other hand, is an OS kernel written mostly by Linus Torvalds. And most “Linux distributions” are a pastiche of software written by many people; quite a lot of most of them is, in fact, taken from BSD UNIX. But the egocentric Stallman wants to take credit for the whole deal, so he frequently howls, “Call it GNU/Linux! GNOOOOOOOH Linux!”

  2. Brett, I figure that The Public Interest is a pretty amorphous thing, which isn’t necessarily opposed to the corporate interest. Isn’t the goal of capitalism to align the two? But I take your point that Public Knowledge does seem to advocate positions that are well aligned with the interests of some corporations, such as the one you mentioned, while being opposed to some others. And this is ultimately what’s at stake in the net neutrality debate: is the public interest in better networks more important than the public interest in better over-the-top services?

    Harold, I do try to uphold interests of the reactionary landlord class that has enveloped me in false consciousness while it extracts the surplus value of my alienated labor. Makes for a good debate.

  3. Richard, you’re right that the interests of corporations and those of the public are not ALWAYS at odds, but in this case they are. And that’s why GoogleClick (as I call it since the two merged) is attempting to cloak its attempts to further its interests by enlisting “astroturf” groups inside the Beltway to do its bidding. Public Knowledge, the Neutered (er, New) America Foundation, and Free Press are the most active proponents of regulating the Internet so as to advantage Google. (EFF, which is no longer based in DC, is also active in this area. It, too, receives big bucks from Google, and its Chairman just happens to be a board member of BitTorrent, Inc.)

    As for your question, “Is the public interest in better networks more important than the public interest in better over-the-top services?”, I would assert that this is a false dilemma; people need both. The question is also rendered virtually semantically null by the use of the word “better.” Better in what sense and according to whose criteria? The entire “network neuterality” (yes, the “e” is intentional) debate is equally confused. The parties can’t even agree on the definitions of the terms, and therefore one cannot even really have a debate, much less a good one.

    In any event, I expect Harold to continue his attempts to put broadband providers such as myself out of business — destroying livelihoods, harming broadband accessibility and competition, and hampering the political speech he claims to want to facilitate. Of course, he really is not entitled to have a say in any of this, because he has no actual skin in the game. Win or lose, he still gets paid. But if he wins, many people will be harmed. That’s why people like myself, who actually do have dreams at stake, families to feed, and customers who need and love us, will fight his efforts to the death.

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