Thursday, December 23, 2010

Net Neutrality

@jasoninthehouse (Jason Chaffetz, R-UT3) has finally blocked me. Enjoy your impermeable echo chamber, sir.

Chaffetz doesn't understand the Internet. But because he's a knee-jerk conservative, he knows exactly how to regulate it: not at all.

jasoninthehouse (Jason Chaffetz): Classic government trying to regulate Internet. NO to 'net neutrality'. The internet works...'fixing' something that isn't broken.

In other words, given the choice of putting a corporation between citizens and the communication they want to access, and putting the government between corporations and the pile of protection money they'll earn from their privileged position, Chaffetz sided with the corporations.

The thing is, the Internet doesn't work. So far, the U.S. has adopted a "business-friendly" low-regulation approach, as opposed to the market-unfriendly, "Internet as a public utility" approach of other industrialized nations. According to Chaffetz' free-marketeering*, our foresight should give us the best Internet on the planet. Not one on par with Estonia's. We pay more money for less speed than just about anyone in the industrialized world.

Quick note for anyone new to Net Neutrality: It's the idea that Internet providers shouldn't be able to create toll lanes for the Internet or prioritize the traffic of some services over others. For example, Microsoft shouldn't be able to sign a deal with Comcast to make their search page load faster than Google, nor should they be allowed to throttle traffic from Hulu in order to make it a worse customer experience and drive people to their own video on demand services.

Or, to be more apocalyptic: here's the worst case scenario if we don't have Net Neutrality.

Or, to put it in terms that even Jason Chaffetz can understand: Imagine if George Soros bought out Comcast, and issued a directive to block customer access to a boatload of right wing sites like Heritage, Cato, FoxNews, RedState, WND, etc., while providing a fast lane straight to Rachael Maddow and Keith Olbermann. Nothing so dramatic has happened in the real world, but there have been plenty of cases of Internet carriers blocking access to information they didn't like, including pro-union sites and information critical of their business practices. Also, at the moment, Comcast is trying to extract money out of Netflix by threatening to charge them punitive

I'm not surprised that yet another Republican has sided with the right of corporations to make fistfuls of cash, and against an open and democratic society. But I'm disappointed.

* Which is similar to mouseketeering in both enthusiasm and lack of substance.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is Obama or Palin more authoritarian? Facebook has the answer.

Both released their obligatory "Hanukkah is awesome" greeting to Facebook this morning (Obama, Palin). The comment sections beneath the two highlights one very important difference between them.

In real life, both politicians have an active, engaged, inflamed group of citizens who hate everything about them. But if Facebook were your guide, you would think that Sarah Palin had an approval rating hovering near 100%. The only hint of an opposition comes from the fact that any time a negative comment gets through, five or six of her devoted followers post a quick STFU HATER before it gets taken down.

I know from firsthand experience that posting any hint of disagreement to Palin's notes on Facebook lead to immediate banning. I was polite, respectful, and cited my sources. Didn't matter. I only got two posts off before being banned. I still get to be counted among her "fans" and can still access to her deep thoughts on economic and foreign policy, but I must suffer them in silence.

Obama has to be censoring the most inflammatory commentors. But you can still see lots of comments that question his patriotism, criticize him for specific acts, and generally remind us that there are people out there who really, really hate him.

Being the President, it's hard to imagine that Obama just doesn't have the staff to police his Facebook activities effectively. The continued existence of the negative comments must stem from an outlook that values freedom of expression and the views of political opponents far more than Palin does.

One more data point in support of my belief that Obama wants to be President of the Whole United States, while Palin is running for President of "Real" (read: Rural) America.