Don't exempt wireless from net neutrality debate

John C. Tanner
08 Sep 2010

Net neutrality is one of the most crucial issues facing the future development of the telecoms industry in general. You can tell from the way that the debate has drifted way off course into hysterical conspiracy-theory territory in the US in recent months.

Earlier this year, for example, left-wing blog site ThinkProgress announced it had allegedly uncovered a "secret plan" by telecoms companies in the US to lobby against net neutrality regulations by hiring fake grassroots organizations to promote radical and misleading tactics. (It wasn't.)

Meanwhile, some conservative politicians and pundits are convinced that an FCC-mandated net neutrality policy will result in a Socialist government takeover of the Internet that will target and shut down every web site in America that criticizes President Barack Obama.

Evidently this all started when Representative Marsha Blackburn (a Republican from Tennessee) described net neutrality as "the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet", referring to an old and long-defunct FCC policy for broadcasters. (As someone who worked in broadcasting, I can assure you it's a wildly inaccurate analogy.) So I guess it should be no surprise that net neutrality advocates went ballistic over the news that Google and Verizon had hammered out a framework for net neutrality that they intended to propose to the FCC.

Critics blasted Google for selling out its principles and creating a "signed-sealed-and-delivered policy framework with giant loopholes that blesses the carving up of the Internet for a few deep-pocketed internet companies and carriers", as Free Press described it.

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