This is going around today, I saw it on Fark, they got it from Daily Kos. In any event, it’s a partial transcript of a rambling diatribe given by Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens that plainly shows he does not understand what “the internet” is. He makes the claim that we need to separate the commercial part of the internet from the part that is “essential to small businesses, to our operation of families”. Now, I’m not sure how “small businesses” aren’t part of the commercial world, but maybe he just thinks that people feel warm and fuzzy about small businesses so it’s okay to lump them in with regular people.
He’s arguing for regulation of the internet so that the bandwith hogging applications (he mentions on-demand movie downloads) don’t interfere with little Billy’s email to Grandma. Okay, fine, I’m in favor of that. But there are a couple of directions we can take here.
One, we can make the big bad corporations build their own internet so that it doesn’t interfere with families. Does that mean I’d have to have two accounts with Cox? One for my “family internet” and one so I can get on Buy.com? Not sure how that helps me.
Two, we can look at why (or if) this is really a problem. Maybe the RIAA and MPAA could stop trying to criminalize Bit Torrent and try using it for their own legal distribution. Maybe we could remove some of the monopolies granted to cable companies and get some real competition. Problems like the ones Stevens describes don’t happen in truly competitive markets. When they come up, someone figures out how to fix it, and everyone else follows along or gets left behind. It’s only when the barriers to entry are set so high that competition is impossible that we run into things like this.
Anyway, his statement would be really funny if it weren’t so scary.