Monday, August 18, 2014

What he said....'bout Net Neutrality as a Public Utility Value

Harold Feld of Piublic Knowledge and "Tales of the Sausage Factory" posts a reflection on of a very interesting big data analysis of the 1.1 million comments so far made on the FCC's request that the public weigh in on potential net neutrality regulations.

Feld incisively points to the unprecedented degree to which Americans are engaged with this issue, the personal way they tie this to fundamental civic values, and the sheer amount of individual thought put into this matter. The money quote:
More broadly, when we look at these sentiments, we see a lot of support for the idea of broadband as a public utility – by which I mean a basic service so essential to participation in modern society that we do not simply leave it to the kindness of kings, the benevolence of corporate barons, or the indifference of the unfettered market. We don’t speak of access to consumer goods or most services as essential to the American Dream and tied into values of fundamental fairness. We reserve that kind of language for a very small number of services like water, electricity and other very basic and fundamental things. That people now add “broadband access” to this short list of services that should reflect our values is quite telling.
When we say that access to the net should be a "utility" it isn't, not by any means, a reference to simply a preferred economic model. It is about equitable access for all, access that is not controlled by some consortia of big guys.

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