Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

McCain on Technology

John McCain's campaign finally posted a technology policy. McCain, as usual, is good on the rhetoric:

John McCain Will Preserve Consumer Freedoms. John McCain will focus on policies that leave consumers free to access the content they choose; free to use the applications and services they choose; free to attach devices they choose, if they do not harm the network; and free to chose [sic] among broadband service providers.

What's profoundly missing from this list is freedom to publish content.

The FCC released its opinion and order today on Comcast's reset-spoofing attack on BitTorrent. (Sorry, I just can't call it "network management" with a straight face, particularly since Comcast changed its story about what it was doing three or four times as the truth emerged.) This result ---announced earlier--- protects consumers' ability to "use the applications and services they choose".

But McCain's policy immediately goes on to say:

John McCain does not believe in prescriptive regulation like “net-neutrality,” but rather he believes that an open marketplace with a variety of consumer choices is the best deterrent against unfair practices.

Am I unfair in reading this as opposition to rulings of the sort handed down by the FCC? It sure sounds like a "prescriptive regulation" to me. McCain is profoundly out of touch about the level of consumer choice available. McCain has not, to my knowledge, made any public statement about the FCC decision, but his ally FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has had plenty to say in opposition.

As Larry Lessig points out in this (nakedly partisan) presentation, McCain has been chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for 7 of the past 10 years--- an era in which the U.S. has fallen behind in broadband penetration and undergone substantial consolidation in telecommunications. Why does France, a profoundly more socialist economy, have better and cheaper consumer Internet access than anywhere in the U.S.?

McCain's solution:

John McCain will establish a “People Connect Program” that rewards companies that offer high-speed Internet access services to low income customers by allowing these companies offset [sic] their tax liability for the cost of this service.

(Two typos so far, guess this received a lot of attention from the campaign.) From a budget hawk, an $8 billion corporate handout seems a bit much. And we all know that however much John McCain might disagree with particular tax cuts, he's unwilling to let them expire later because that would be "raising taxes".

To be fair, McCain has supported overturning state bans on municipal networking projects; his 2005 bill went nowhere, though, and later versions have watered-down language permitting only public/private partnerships, not completely-public infrastructure development.

The technology policy touts other aspects of McCain's legislative history:

He championed laws that penalized fraudulent marketing practices, protected kids from harmful Internet content, secured consumer privacy, and sought to minimize spam.

McCain's support of the unconstitutional Child Online Protection Act is nothing to boast about. (What happened to "free to access the content they choose"? Betcha he's not a fan of online gambling either.) Claiming credit for "championing" the utterly ineffective CAN-SPAM Act is also less than straight talk. McCain likes to talk a lot about ineffective government programs, but still wants to claim credit for ineffective laws.
Tags: politics, technology
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