Net Neutrality: Is It an Election Issue?

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Net Neutrality: Is It an Election Issue?

Two issues that won’t go away: Net Neutrality and the idea of privacy on the internet.  Well, it is an interesting mix of questions … like, have you ditched Facebook yet?  Tempting, isn’t it?  (Fair warning: If you do decide to delete Facebook, the friendly folks in Menlo Park will take all your Facebook data away unless you take precautionary measures as per this Consumer Reports article.)

There are actually a couple of candidates running on the Facebook issue … like Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Ro Khanna in California and couple of others.  If one considers the tone-deafness of Facebook and Google over their data breeches, it might make some sense to tie it to the issue of broadband deployment … such a fast lane for Netflix.  But then again, maybe I'm dreaming.  After all, nothing much happened after the Federal Confusion Commission more or less deregulated the internet.

Except, of course, for a bit of nibbling around the edges of the sanctity of Net Neutrality’s one time set of rules.  To wit: T-Mobile packages Netflix with a cellular subscription and now owns the “cable” work-around company Layer 3 TV … which will certainly provide the backbone of a video 5G service coming sometime in the future (more on that below). 

In the meantime, the aforementioned Congressman Khanna, responding to a request from House Minority Leader Representative Pelosi, came up with a set of principles for an “Internet Bill of Rights.”  Then, in an interview with New York Times contributor Kara Swisher, Nancy Pelosi suggested that a new agency could be created to manage tech’s growing impact.  “Something needs to be done,” she told Swisher, to “protect the privacy of the American people” and “come up with overarching values” -- a set of principles that everyone can agree on and adhere to.

So okay, it's sort of a knee-jerk Democratic idea … but, get over it.  This is a good idea as per Mr. Khanna's response to Pelosi embodied in his:

Set of Principles for an Internet Bill of Rights

The internet age and digital revolution have changed Americans’ way of life. As our lives and the U.S. economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online.

You should have the right:

1)  To have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies;

2)  To opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party;

3)  Where context is appropriate and with a fair process, to obtain, correct or delete personal data controlled by any company and to have those requests honored by third parties;

4)  To have personal data secured and to be notified in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered;

5)  To move all personal data from one network to the next;

6)  To access and use the internet without internet service providers blocking, throttling, engaging in paid prioritization or otherwise unfairly favoring content, applications, services or devices;

7)  To internet service without the collection of data that is unnecessary for providing the requested service absent opt-in consent;

8)  To have access to multiple viable, affordable internet platforms, services and providers with clear and transparent pricing;

9)  Not to be unfairly discriminated against or exploited based on your personal data; and

10) To have an entity that collects your personal data have reasonable business practices and accountability to protect your privacy.

Think about it … this could even replace all the U.S. and differing state laws tomorrow.

Random Notes

Here comes the 5G hype, a whole lot of “cut-the-cord” cheering (for real this time) plus next year's much ballyhooed OTT services from Disney and AT&T.  But don't expect it to happen quickly.  Here are some of the reasons why:

1)  All of the existing programming contracts and the variety of lengths involved until renewal;

2)  Digital rights vis a vis linear rights;

3)  Rights vis a vis delivery mode, i.e. cellular broadband vs. wire/fiber broadband;

4)  The coming NIMBY fights over small cell placement necessary for real 5G;

5)  The politics of all of the above along with a do-nothing Congress;

6)  A White House that hasn’t seen an issue here (yet).

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