Although he was outvoted 3-2 (bipartisan, no less), FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell is still griping about the fact that the FCC voted to require Comcast to stop using Sandvine to block P2P traffic by the end of the year -- an action that Comcast said it was going to do anyway.
Now McDowell is even going as far as to say that the Comcast case links the long-gone "Fairness Doctrine" with "Network Neutrality," in an attempt to get talk-radio folks riled up at his recent speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation (an institution that I have in my favorite bookmarks). Yet one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. The Fairness Doctrine, if applied on the Internet, would violate Network Neutrality principles! The network has never cared about the political positions of the senders of packets, and it would violate the neutral behavior of the network if it had to start caring. Today's free marketplace provided by the Internet ensures that no voices get blocked and that access to all voices are ensured to anyone who wants to listen. The fairness doctrine provided for "equal time" on a radio station, regardless if anyone was listening to it. That's not a free market, and McDowell definitely knows the difference. Network Neutrality == Fairness Doctrine? That's definitely the stupidest thing I've heard this week.
As a fellow free-marketer and a fiscal conservative, I also eschew unnecessary regulation. But there are Internet Standards, and there have been for years, and these are debated out in the open for all to see and comment upon. They're set by an engineering body and that work ought to continue. But the engineering body has no enforcement teeth, and that limited role is what the FCC needs to play.
Can you imagine the clamor that would occur if Rush Limbaugh found out that one of his high-powered media enemies was adding a 1000 ms delay to packets going back and forth to his website? (No, this isn't happening -- for my fellow dittoheads out there, I am "illustrating absurdity by being absurd.") It would be a violation of Internet Standards and traditions, but there is nobody in Internet Governance that enforces these standards -- governments have to! The FCC policy is exactly the makes-sense protection that our current situation needs. The policy -- read it! Once you get past all the high-talking preamble stuff, it's a one pager! It's a CONSERVATIVE POLICY and ROBERT MCDOWELL OUGHT TO BE EMBRACING IT!
I'm glad to read that the Republican tech bloggers aren't buying it. Thanks to TechRepublican and Nicola Karras for showing scrutiny where it is deserved.
We all ought to follow that example.