Miller is dead wrong on net neutrality

By Andrew Sheeler

The Friday, Oct. 22 ASUAF-sponsored debate between Joe Miller (R) and Scott McAdams (D) was like a game of political “Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots.” The candidates traded verbal jabs over everything from healthcare reform to abortion, all stuff we’ve heard before. As the debate drew to a close, ASUAF President Nicole Carvajal asked a question of the candidates which had not been asked before.

“What are your opinions on net neutrality? What about copyright law and internet piracy?” Carvajal asked.

“Wow, in one minute?” Miller responded. In Miller’s defense, that is an extremely weighty issue. Net neutrality, at its most basic, is the idea that the internet should be one size fits all. This policy, enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would keep multinational corporations such as Google, Verizon and AT&T Corp. from creating a super high-speed internet for clients with the (substantial) cash to afford it.

With one minute to respond, Miller spent the next one minute, five seconds getting the issue completely wrong.

“The internet is obviously a place where free expression has got to reign,” Miller said. Miller cautioned against trying to “implement some sort of Fairness Doctrine” over the internet and said that the web is an “extraordinary opportunity for the free exchange of ideas.” These spectacularly vague statements signify nothing at all. Miller went five seconds more than his allotted time so that he could recite a string of vacuous platitudes.

That’s ok. Miller’s connections more than speak for his true stance on net neutrality, which is to say he opposes it. Among the groups endorsing Miller is the group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). Miller references them on his website and the group was even mentioned during the debate. On their website, CAGW calls net neutrality an “ill-conceived venture into drafting new rules and regulations to dictate how broadband companies must manage access to the internet.” CAGW try to re-cast their side as the one supporting free speech, the free speech that large quantities of money can buy.

In half the time that it took Joe Miller to say nothing at all, Scott McAdams outright said that he supported net neutrality. McAdams said the “move to allow telecoms to provide favored status to other corporations is an impediment to innovation.” This is the stance of Vinton Cerf, the man widely credited as the “father of the internet.” This is the stance of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Barack Obama. Even corporate giant Google has offered limited support for the concept of net neutrality. On Google’s Public Policy Blog, they write, “Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet.”

That is what is at stake here. Without net neutrality, websites that espouse unpopular positions could be relegated to a low-bandwidth ghetto while corporate-sponsored sites receive priority access. Web articles critical of, say, AT&T Corp. or their favored political candidate could all but disappear amidst a deluge of propaganda.

Joe Miller might offer pretty words about free speech, but make no mistake; Miller and his campaign benefactors are no friends to the concept of a free web. The next senator from Alaska will be in a position of incredible power when it comes to shaping, or blocking, a comprehensive net neutrality policy. Imagine if Daily Kos, Drudge Report, Newgrounds or Wikipedia were to suddenly become inaccessible due to extreme lag. Consider that next Tuesday when you go into the ballot booth to vote.

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1 Response

  1. mattb says:

    I think Joe Miller doesn’t have the understanding of NN that McAdams has, which is neither a positive or a negative because many tech savvy people don’t have a clue either.

    There are positives and negatives to Net Neutrality, which is why you have prominent super-geeks on both sides of the issue.

    One big argument against it is more regulations to sift through. Regulations tend to get amended and bastardized to a point that was not intended by the original bill.

    The real driving force, however, is that ISP’s want to slow down competing services on their systems. Like ACS would love to put traffic shaping to limit your use of VOIP applications. GCI caps are more to compel you to keep the HBO, Showtime, etc, premium channels instead of going online and downloading/streaming the content. GCI makes a lot of money off the premium channels. Internet is taking a byte out of that money.

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