Ron Paul: Net Neutrality And Public Domain Are Evil Collectivist Plots

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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  1. m mcfeeters says:

    Why do you feel Tim Berners Lee testified before congress about his support for net neutrality? What do you think about his You Tube video stating that he feels now is the time to make net neutrality the rule or the law of the land to be enforced because he sees attempts to violate the honor system of neutrality? He said he feels the threat to the net in America is a commercial takeover. I think with the recent efforts at cyber security and property rights over reach we need Net Neutrality to be the Law of the Land to keep both commercial AND the government interest from taking over the net. His statement was made before CISPA,SOPA, and ACTA when we were just concerned about Comcast, ATT, Verizon and so forth charging us at both ends..we pay them to connect us well, but they also want to charge our content provider (like toll gate keepers or the trolls under the bridge) to get to us to pay twice or more which ups our rates with third parties they charge twice as well 1st to have bigger servers then to access us or force us to use content ISPs own and get money from sponsors who charge us more so they can buy ads…same old lousy game as they do with the old media….that’s where the idea of public commons comes in…These outfits have shown us what they deliver in old media, if we liked it we would stay with just that….somethings are too important to the public to give too much control to those we allow to own these public and community services…and yes we allow ownership. WE allow this with charters…or agreements. We allow this through financing through the government we pay into and through paying our bills for services WHEN WE ARE SATISFIED WITH THE SERVICE. We also pay for this by allowing our pension plans to invest in these companies and not insisting they pull that money out of those companies. No has to pay for unacceptable service. OUR TAX DOLLARS WERE USED TO CREATE THE WEB. ATT and others considered it too risky to put their money on so they can just sit down and shut up and deliver us better service….Check what is available around the world and we see they are falling behind on their job. I think if anyone gets to own the net it should be Berners Lee and the handful of others who actually designed and developed the web if someone must control it and own it. These companies don’t own all the land, air and water they are allowed to run their wires,cables, and wavelengths over to provide a public service and it’s time they remembered that!

    • I agree. What needs to be remembered is we do have a lot of power to vote with our representatives, dollars, and feet- we need to make it clear that the internet is too valuable a resource to be likened to vapid entertainment like television.

      The internet delivers real news as it happens, not through a corporate filter.

      The tricky aspect is implementation. How do you think we can support the ideals of the internet freedom declaration while respecting the rights to property any artist or creator recognizes?

      What is the best way to ensure that every child in america has internet access to answer question their parents can’t or to supplement an expensive public education budget? Ubiquitous internet saves more money, ultimately, than it would cost.

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