Speech, Democracy, and Open Internet Regulations

The video of the FCC workshop on Speech, Democratic Engagement, and the Open Internet is up on the FCC’s web site already. I can’t say there was much enlightening dialog in this event; it was pretty much the same tired old rhetoric we’ve heard for the last four years on the subject, with some exceptions.

One speaker, Bob Corn-Revere, was very good, quite clear about the potential dangers of the proposed anti-discrimination rule, and another, Glenn Reynolds, briefly mentioned reservations about them but didn’t amplify. Another speaker denounced volume-based pricing as a racist practice, and several others displayed astonishing ignorance about the nature of information bottlenecks on the Internet by way of proposing different rules for sites like YouTube and search services than those that would apply to ISPs. The reality is that people don’t stream video from their home computers today because of capacity limits, so any attempt to free video streams from content-based restrictions has to start with the services that people use to locate and host these streams.

So the workshop was pretty much a waste of time unless you just awoke from a five year long coma. Not that the FCC meant for it to be, of course, just that there wasn’t much there. And to make matters worse, the written testimony is not available from the FCC, but thanks to PFF you can see Bob Corn-Revere’s statement here.

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2 thoughts on “Speech, Democracy, and Open Internet Regulations”

  1. This panel was the most one-sided yet — even more so than the two Comcast hearings. In fact, there wasn’t even anyone present to correct the most obviously incorrect statements (whether they were intentionally false or merely due to ignorance).

    Perhaps the most astonishingly absurd statement was the claim that tiered pricing of Internet services amounted to a “poll tax.” If that’s true, then so is charging for gasoline by the gallon (assuming that you drive to the polls).

  2. The funniest thing was all the criiticism of fast lanes by people who stream their videos out of blip.tv and YouTube; they don’t even know they’re already in the fast lane.

    This workshop was part of the Net Neutrality proceeding rather than the Broadband Plan, so it was organized by a different part of the FCC, the Office of Strategic Planning.

    I have to agree that it was less balanced than Kevin Martin’s Comcast hearings, which is saying something. While it appears that OSP has taken the gloves off here and elsewhere (the moderation of the Cybertelecom-l e-mail list by an OSP employee has gotten pretty aggressive in the last few days as well — any unwelcome POV is simply banned) it may not be totally intentional.

    Glenn Reynolds submitted comments that were critical of the proposed regulations, but steered away from the disagreeable parts during the actual workshop. I have reason to believe that OSP expected more spine from him than that, so as it was Corn-Revere had to do all the heavy lifting by himself.

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