Washington

Republican Platform Includes Internet Freedom Plank

Party slams FCC for Luddite, last-century approach, including its network neutrality rules 8/29/2012 09:25:13 AM Eastern

The Republican Party adopted its platform at the
convention Tuesday, and it included a commitment to Internet freedom, kudos for
mobile broadband, and a big knock on the current Democratic-led FCC.

In
the section entitled "Protecting Internet Freedom," the platform
notes that Internet's independence is its power: "We will remove
regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from
innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering
with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video
data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem."

The
platform also commits to a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, one
of the few things Republicans and Democrats are in full agreement on.

The
Republican party says it is committed to ensuring that "personal data
receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that
individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third
parties," it adds that "the only way to safeguard or improve these
systems is through the private sector." The Republicans' focus on the
private sector became one of the sticking points in cybersecurity legislation that
failed to pass despite both parties acknowledging that there was a need for
better cybersecurity protections.

But
while the Republicans say they are for Internet freedom, it does not mean they
have changed their opposition to the FCC's open Internet rules. The Republicans
say telecom regulation is stuck in the last century -- make that two centuries
ago.

"Today's
technology and telecommunications industries are overseen by the Federal
Communications Commission, established in 1934 and given the jurisdiction over
telecommunications formerly assigned to the Interstate Commerce Commission,
which had been created in 1887 to regulate the railroads," according to
the platform in a section entitled: "A Vision for the Twenty-First
Century: Technology, Telecommunications and the Internet."

That
vision does not include the FCC as currently constituted. "An industry
that invested $66 billion in 2011 alone needs, and deserves, a more modern
relationship with the federal government for the benefit of consumers here and
worldwide," they say. "The current Administration has been frozen in
the past. It has conducted no auction of spectrum [and] has offered no
incentives for investment."

And
while the FCC recently said that broadband has not been deployed in a timely
and reasonable fashion, the Republicans lay the blame at the feet of the FCC.
"[The commission] inherited from the previous Republican Administration
95% coverage of the nation with broadband. It will leave office with no
progress toward the goal of universal coverage -- after spending $7.2 billion
more [a reference to the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus package].

"We
call for an inventory of federal agency spectrum to determine the surplus that
could be auctioned for the taxpayers' benefit... we will replace the
administration's Luddite approach to technological progress with a regulatory
partnership that will keep this country the world leader in technology and
telecommunications."

September
October