Amidst all the rancor that we’ve seen during the last few weeks over the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules comes a joint filing by Verizon and Google that asks a refreshing question. What do the antagonists have in common regarding this vexing problem?
“Because our businesses rely on each other, it is appropriate for us to jointly discuss a number of things,” wrote Alan Davidson of Google and Thomas Tauke of Verizon on Thursday, such as “how we ensure that consumers get the information, products and services they want online; encourage investment in advanced networks; and ensure the openness of the web around the world.” And so they’ve come up with a set of broad principles and the outline of a voluntary industry-wide system for handling network management disputes, with government intervention included only in the most dire cases—a set of “overarching values that create a framework to guide players throughout the Internet space.”
Google/Verizon say that the Internet should function as an “open platform.” That means, to them, that “when a person accesses cyberspace, he or she should be able to connect with any other person that he or she wants to—and that other person should be able to receive his or her message,” they write. The ‘Net should operate as a place where no “central authority” can make rules that prescribe the possible, and where entrepreneurs and network providers are able to “innovate without permission.”
Consumers, the statement continues, should enjoy control over all parts of their experience of the Internet. “No entity from either the government or the private sector should wrest control from consumers over how they choose to use the Internet, and the government should not implement policies that would limit consumers’ ability to choose for themselves,” Verizon and Google explain. And providers should offer maximum transparency to consumers, giving them “clear and meaningful information” regarding the services they buy and receive.
But here is where they screw up:
But Google and Verizon acknowledge that there needs to be a “backstop role” for the government to step in “if or when bad actors emerge anywhere in the Internet space, and we do agree that involvement should occur only where necessary on a case-by-case base basis.” In those instances, intervention should be “surgical, swift and based on a finding of specific facts that establish such harm.”
Anyone else notice the blatantly contradictory statements that there should be no central authority yet the government should be the central authority?
There is *NO* need for government, period. The market, even in its currently distorted mode, is more capable of dealing with issues that may arise than some government bureaucracy. Ideally these companies would be calling for complete government withdrawal from the field thereby empowering consumers and entrepreneurs. But this is better than full government intervention.