Human Events Blog

Internet Freedom enters the final draft of the GOP platform

The Daily Caller reports that Internet Freedom language has been added to the final draft of the Republican Party platform, which still awaits final approval from party authorities.

The relevant passage in the platform reads: “We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new technologies such as mobile delivery of voice and video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem.  We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations.  We will ensure 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.”

The Daily Caller notes that this language is modeled on Ron and Rand Paul’s “Technology Revolution” manifesto from their Campaign for Liberty, which declares: “As a matter of principle, we oppose any attempt by government to tax, regulate, monitor, or control the Internet, and we oppose the Internet collectivists who collaborate with the government against Internet freedom.”

As I mentioned when first reporting on the “The Technology Revolution,” it delivered a sharp rebuke to Net Neutrality, a package of government controls designed to regulate the sale and use of Internet bandwidth – an effort bound to produce the elevated prices and reduced quality typical of all price controls.  The GOP platform language is also nicely incompatible with Net Neutrality, and echoes the Campaign for Liberty’s assertion that “technology is evolving faster than government’s ability to regulate it.”

These ideals have gained increasing support from many quarters of the libertarian and conservative movements, and prominent figures within the Republican Party.  The Daily Caller provides a roll call of Internet Freedom exponents:

“These voices include TechFreedom president Berin Szoka, Mercatus Center senior research fellow Adam Thierer, Associate Director of Technology Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute Ryan Radia, and Netcompetition president Scott Cleland.

“It is also modeled off of the efforts of Republican politicians in both chambers of Congress.

“California Republican Representatives Mary Bono Mack and Darrell Issa, Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul and Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton are some of leaders in the House on Internet issues.

“Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul have lead Republican efforts in the Senate.”

The GOP platform also includes practical critiques of the FCC, outmoded telecom legislation, and the Obama Administration’s expense of $7 billion without measurable progress toward increasing broadband infrastructure in the United States.  The latter is a matter of particular dismay for consumers and businesses in rural areas.

The GOP platform is, unfortunately but understandably, silent on two of the most contentious Internet issues of the moment: cybersecurity and Internet sales taxes.  Platform language is not binding upon candidates, and it certainly doesn’t prevent them from addressing issues the party platform chooses not to discuss in detail, so the Romney-Ryan campaign may yet provide us with specific positions in these areas.

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