Ron Paul’s plan for Internet freedom-Forbes
July 9, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: In general, we’ve liked the maverick style of Ron Paul, even if his son Rand is a wingnut over such issues as abortion. The Pauls are a good example of why citizens can’t trust any politician, ever. And now the Pauls seem not to have a basic understanding of our Internet. It ain't all about America. Netizens have painfully discovered that we cannot trust anybody's govts to protect our freedoms. Hillary Clinton, for example, epitomises talking about Internet freedom and no more. It's up to us to defend the Internet, not any politicians, including the Pauls.]
Our Internet does not require regulation. The Declaration of Internet Freedom to which FACT is founding signatory keeps it simple and keeps govt out of it.
In contrast, the Pauls’ proposals are complex and involve far too much govt, something they claim to oppose! Frankly, they don’t get the whole concept.
The Internet = individual liberty = public space. Let’s keep it that way and keep govts out of it.]
Ron Paul Takes Up Internet Freedom With New ‘Technology Revolution’ Manifesto
Forbes Magazine: July 5, 2012
An image of the U.S. flag is reflected in the lens of a supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, at a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012. (Daylife)
Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray has an interesting story on the new direction the Ron Paul Revolution appears to be taking, moving away from the archaic finance-driven End-the-Fed campaign and toward something more pressing and applicable to the lives of today’s young people: Internet freedom.
A new Paul manifesto from both Ron and Rand Paul called “The Technology Revolution” will serve as the backbone for this new front in the Paul-founded Campaign For Liberty.
Young people have been a driving force in the Paul campaign, and the focus on internet freedom should only bolster that support.
Following in the wake of numerous attempts by the government to regulate various aspects of the internet – from SOPA to ACTA and any number of other bills and trade agreements – the document lays out a digital laissez-faire approach to internet freedom.
“The revolution is occurring around the world,” the document reads. “It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy. And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.”
Warning of “internet collectivists” out to appropriate the language of freedom, the new Manifesto argues that further regulation of the internet will lead to less freedom online rather than more. They argue that any attempt by the government to increase its regulatory power is ludicrous, noting the hypocrisy in advocating that ”private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated inthe name of ‘protecting consumers,’ at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.”
The new document serves as something of a counterpoint to the recently released Declaration of Internet Freedom, an online petition put together by Free Press which urges an end to censorship but also the promotion of universal access to the internet.
“Internet collectivists are clever,” the manifesto reads. “They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously pushfor more centralized control. ‘Openness’ means government control of privately owned infrastructure.’Net neutrality’ means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral’.”
I’ve always had a soft spot for Ron Paul, even though he’s far more conservative and far more libertarian than I am. I have a soft spot for internet freedom as well, and have written about the various threats to that freedom at one time or another.
But I’m a little irked by some of the language of this document, truth be told, even though I’m always happy to see more people up in arms about things like internet censorship.
I’ve argued before that what this country really needs is a Civil Liberties Caucus in congress – not a right-leaning or left-leaning one, either. We need people like Ron Wyden on the left and Ron Paul on the right, even though they may not agree on everything, who are willing to go up against civil-liberty-quashing laws and attempts at censorship. I want people to start voting with this as a priority, regardless of ideological labels (a task that is, truthfully, much harder than it sounds.)
In other words, the last thing we need is one group of civil liberties advocates calling the other group “internet collectivists.” The stakes are too high. The number of elected officials who even care about blocking a bill like SOPA is frighteningly small to begin with. It’s all too People’s Front of Judea for me.
Of course, there really are very real philosophical differences between small government advocates like Ron Paul and his civil libertarian colleagues on the left.
Someone like me would happily sign on to the Declaration of Internet Freedom, for instance, and would gladly support government efforts to get more people online.
Is the internet a human right? I’m not sure it matters, honestly. Internet Access is an important piece of our human and societal and economic infrastructure. Investing public dollars to get more people online (especially rural people and the poor) just makes sense, especially when you dispense with the largely fruitless “rights” language that has become a crutch more than anything in political discussion lately. I believe in human rights, but more often than not both the right and the left appropriate rights language and freedom-speak to score political points.
So here’s a question for both members of the right and the left (and libertarians!) who care about internet freedom: is it worth setting aside your differences just a little bit and working against a common enemy? Is ideological purity more important than results? Where does principle leave off and pragmatism begin?
Because, quite frankly, I don’t care if you’re a collectivist or if you’re John Galt.
If you want to stop censorship and rein in an increasingly intrusive anti-piracy regime, that’s all I care about. That and the results.
I’ve reached out to the Campaign For Liberty about the new manifesto and its implications, and will publish something more detailed on the matter soon.
You can read the manifesto here.
The Technology Revolution
A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto
This is what a technology revolution looks like:
New innovators create vast new markets where none existed previously;
Individual genius enabled by the truly free market the Internet represents routes around obsolete and ineffective government attempts at control;
The arrogant attempts of governments to centralize, intervene, subsidize, micromanage and regulate innovation is scoffed at and ignored.
The revolution is occurring around the world.
It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. [FACT calls bullshit!]
It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy.
And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.
The true technology revolutionaries have little need for big government and never have.
Microsoft ignored the government for years and changed the world by leading the PC revolution.
Today, companies like Apple — which has created several completely new markets out of whole cloth (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and iPod) — are changing the world again, successfully adopting visionary new revenue models for movies, songs and games, and launching an economy responsible for creating almost half a million jobs in the United States since the iPhone was introduced.
All in less than 5 years, and all without government permission, partnerships, subsidies, or regulations!
Technology revolutionaries succeeded not because of some collectivist vision that seeks to regulate “fairness”, “neutrality”, “privacy” or competition” through coercive state actions or that views the Internet and technology as a vast commons that must be freely available to all, but rather because of the same belief as America’s Founders who understood that private property is the foundation of prosperity and freedom itself. [FACT finds this ‘private property’ a red herring argument to no point.]
Technology revolutionaries succeed because of the decentralized nature of the Internet, which defies government control.
As a consequence, decentralization has unlocked individual self-empowerment, entrepreneurialism, creativity, innovation and the creation of new markets in ways never before imagined in human history.
But, ironically, just as decentralization has unleashed the potential for free markets and individual freedom on a global scale, collectivist special interests and governments worldwide are now tirelessly pushing for more centralized control of the Internet and technology.
Here at home they are aided and abetted both by an Administration that wholeheartedly believes in the wisdom of government to manage markets and some in the technology industry that cynically use the cudgel of government control and regulation to hamstring competitors, the Apple’s and Microsoft’s of tomorrow.
Internet collectivism takes many forms, all of them pernicious.
Among the most insidious are government attempts to control and regulate competition, infrastructure, privacy and intellectual property. According to them;
Successful companies in brand new frontier industries that didn’t even exist as recently as five years ago should be penalized and intimidated with antitrust actions in the name of “fairness” and “competition.
Privately owned broadband high-speed infrastructure must be subject to collective rule via public ownership and government regulations that require “sharing” with other competitors.
Internet infrastructure must be treated as a commons subject to centralized government control through a variety of foolish “public interest” and “fairness” regulations.
Wireless, the lifeblood of the mobile Internet revolution, must be micromanaged as a government-controlled commons, with limited exclusive property rights.
Private property rights on the Internet should exist in limited fashion or not at all, and what is considered to be in the public domain should be greatly expanded.
Private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated in the name of “protecting consumers”, at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.
Internet collectivists are clever.
They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control.
“Openness” means government control of privately owned infrastructure.
“Net neutrality” means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be “neutral”.
“Internet freedom” means the destruction of property rights.
“Competition” means managed competition, with the government acting as judge and jury on what constitutes competition and what does not.
Our “right to privacy” only applies to the data collection activities of the private sector, rarely to government.
The eminent economist Ludwig von Mises wrote that when government seeks to solve one problem, it creates two more.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of Internet collectivists and the centralized control of the Internet they seek.
The body of incremental communications law and regulation that has emerged since the days of Alexander Graham Bell are entirely unsuited to the dynamic and ever-changing Internet for one simple reason:
Technology is evolving faster than government’s ability to regulate it.
Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from
extinction.” But in the Internet era, true Internet freedom can be lost in far less than one generation.
Around the world, the real threat to Internet freedom comes not from bad people or
inefficient markets — we can and will always route around them — but from
governments’ foolish attempts to manage and control innovation.
And it is not just the tyrannies we must fear. The road away from freedom is paved with good intentions.
Today, the road to tyranny is being paved by a collectivist-Industrial complex — a dangerous brew of wealthy, international NGO’s, progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies and sympathetic political elites.
Their goals are clear: The collectivist-industrial complex seeks to undermine free markets and property rights, replacing them with “benevolent” government control and a vision of “free” that quickly evolves from “free speech” to “free stuff.”
We know where this path leads. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
A benevolent monopoly for “the public interest” is nothing more than a means for the old guard to reassert their power. The role of the government on the Internet is to protect us from force and fraud, not to decide our interests.
But while the Internet has produced a revolution, it has not, in fact, “changed everything”.