I tend to be a pretty big supporter of free market capitalism and the importance of real property rights (not imaginary property rights). As such, I’ve always been intrigued by Ron Paul’s libertarian stance against big government and excessive regulation. I think that position is pretty clearly staked out in my writing over the years. However, I’m perplexed by the new “internet freedom” manifesto from Ron Paul and Rand Paul, which seems like a hodgepodge of poorly thought out concepts — some of which make sense, and some of which do not. While I agree about keeping the government out of internet regulations, the document seems to attack many of those who actually agree with the Pauls by setting up ridiculous strawmen. In particular, the Pauls come out vehemently against both net neutrality as a concept and any effort to expand the public domain — even though both are really about limiting big government.
In fact, in a bizarre twist, the Pauls seem to be supporting massive government subsidies and handouts in this document, even as they insist they’re not.
Now, I agree that the whole “net neutrality” debate has been muddled over the years, but it is entirely possible to be for the end-to-end principles of the internet (which is what most people mean by net neutrality) and against bad regulations trying to “force” neutrality on the internet. But not in the world of the Pauls. To them, any support of a neutral internet must be about “coercive state actions” and “collective rule” over “privately owned broadband high-speed infrastructure.” This makes me curious if the Pauls spoke out against the billions and billions in subsidies and rights of way grants that the government provided the telcos and cable providers to build their networks. Once again, I am against regulating net neutrality — because it’s obvious that the telcos will control that process and the regulations will favor them against the public — but pretending that broadband infrastructure is really “privately owned” when so much of it involved tax-payer-funded subsidies and rights of way is being in denial.
Then there’s the following, where they claim that these evil “collectivists” want to limit “private property rights on the internet” and are saying that “what is considered to be in the public domain should be greatly expanded.” Considering the Pauls were both instrumental in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, you would think that the two of them understood how copyright law is massively abused and how beneficial the public domain is. But apparently not. To them it’s all part of this “collectivist” plot. Earth to the Pauls: copyright is a massive government-granted monopoly privilege. That’s the kind of thing we thought you were against, not for. In this document, you seem to be arguing for one of the largest programs in the world of a centralized government handing out private monopoly privileges.
There are a few other whoppers in there, including the claim that the groups talking about a “right to privacy” rarely care about it when it comes to government snooping — and, in fact, support government surveillance and collection of private citizens’ internet data. That’s funny, because the very groups that the Pauls appear to be slamming… happen to be the same ones who were central in the fight against CISPA, which was all about the government snooping on our internet activity.
Frankly, this document is a joke from two people who should know better. There are some good points in there about limiting government regulation of innovative companies, but when they’re supportive of two of the biggest government handouts around — telco subsidies and copyright — it’s hard to take them seriously when they claim they’re for smaller government and about getting the government out of the internet. — Source | Image
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