The Internet and other communcations media should be free, argues the Republican platform: free from regulation
The Internet plank of the Republican platform has garnered a lot of attention. But it is only one of the positions on telecommunication the party takes in its guiding document. Along with a free Internet, the official Republican position also contains an argument against Obama’s cybersecurity strategy and against the Federal Communications Commission.
All three planks share a common core: an objection to regulation and a belief in the self-correcting mechanisms of a free market.
“The frequency, sophistication, and intensity of cyber-related incidents within the United States have increased steadily over the past decade and will continue to do so until it is made clear that a cyber attack against the United States will not be tolerated,” reads the section titled “A Twenty-First Century Threat: The Cybersecurity Danger” in the American Exceptionalism plank. “The current deterrence framework is overly reliant on the development of defensive capabilities and has been unsuccessful in dissuading cyber-related aggression. The U.S. cannot afford to risk the cyber-equivalent of Pearl Harbor.”
Current laws and policies keep government and private industry at arm’s length, with the intent of protecting individual users from too much scrutiny into their private affairs online. According to the Republicans, this is a “costly and heavy-handed regulatory approach” that puts “both the government and private entities at a severe disadvantage in proactively identifying potential cyberthreats.”
The platform argues for a freedom from “legal and regulatory barriers that prevent or deter [private companies] from voluntarily sharing cyberthreat information with their government partners.” This approach to cybersecurity is similar, as The Hill notes, to a cybersecurity bill introduced earlier this year by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).
The GOP follows up this argument for relaxed regulation with another for the FCC. Telecommunications are currently regulated based on “precedents from the nineteenth century.” This sector is so dynamic, and changes so fast, they argue, that “even the Telecom Act of 1996 is woefully out of date.”
Calling the current administration’s approach “Luddite,” the telecom plank complains that Obama is using the net neutrality rule “to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.” Net neutrality is a set of rules adopted by the FCC in 2010 and designed to promote an open Internet.
The GOP also argues that, after a federal inventory of broadcast spectrum availability, any surplus should be auctioned off. The regulatory relationship between government should be retooled (though exactly how is not mentioned) for a “regulatory partnership that will keep this country the world leader in technology and telecommunications.”
The Republican approach to communications freedoms, including via the Internet, is one of less regulation, with the belief that, its unfair fetters stricken off, the system will increase in efficiency and deliver to the market what the people who shop there want.
Photo by Tushar Dayal/Flickr