8.09.2010

Centralized Communications

All of the people including Glenn Beck and to his "right" (yes, there are plenty, including the Michigan Militia and Alex Jones, etc.) are convinced that America is just one step away from autocratic dictatorship. The final step, they prophecy, will be for the federal government to "seize the airwaves."

I wouldn't have worried much about that, given Glenn Beck's large presence in the media, but the more I read about Net Neutrality (sorry, Wrangler), the more I'm starting to fear that the conspiracy-freaks might be right. I wish we could have a clearer, more direct, conversation about what's at stake here, including specific examples of how corporations are currently (supposedly) blocking access to certain products or information. I know that generally, liberals are for Net Neutrality, and conservatives oppose it, but I'm not sure that a sizable minority on either side could give good reasons for their positions.

Best I can tell, people on the left tend to believe that the government will protect citizens' interests by ensuring that there will be no "unequal access" to information or resources on the net. People on the right want to (continue to) trust the market to distribute resources according to demand. My question for those on the left is: doesn't that sound good only as long as "your team" is in charge of running whatever FCC-style department is in charge of regulating the airwaves? Do you really trust a conservative to enforce equal-access laws the way that you want to see them take shape?

But honestly--in genuine earnestness--I may not understand what's going on here. And I'd like to.

Maybe here's a framing question: how is the internet fundamentally different than the television airwaves? I may believe that there's too much "liberal" spin on news channels in America, but I don't want the government to step in to try to balance that (see for example: NPR).

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