Timothy M. Denton

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Ted Cruz and the Republicans do not understand the Internet

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Ted Cruz, the appellate lawyer who is running as Republican Presidential candidate,  expressed concern with Obama's moves to control the Internet. As usual, Republicans are confusing the wolves for the sheep, and being the predator party, they run with the wolves.

Ted Cruz said Sunday evening that the “threats to Internet freedom” have “never been greater” and could have the potential of affecting independent online news outlets like the Drudge Report.

Speaking to TheBlaze Sunday evening in Dallas, Texas, the Republican presidential candidate responded to reports that Congressional review of digital copyright law could threaten aggregator news websites.

“I think threats to Internet freedom continue growing,” Cruz said. “This administration views the Internet as a threat.”

Cruz considers that net neutrality regulation of the kind recently passed by the FCC is a threat to Internet freedom. This is precisely contrary to the facts.

The Internet was designed to be end-to-end, which means, essentially, that the decisions about what would be published on the Internet would be under the control of end-points, and not the carrier. Despite all the technical changes that the net has undergone, including Network Address Translators (NATs) and much middleware, the idea remains the same: the carrier does not control the content of what passes through except in certain circumstances concerned with protection of the network.

The concept of net neutrality is that there will be a referee between the carrier, with its legitimate interest in managing the network, and the users and creators at the edge of the network, with their interests in open access, and with innovation without permission.

Opposition to net neutrality is predicated on the old telephone-centric view that the carrier is king, and that the rights of private property in the network ought to prevail over the interests of everyone else in innovation and free communication.

Both the FCC and the CRTC, in their respective decisions about net neutrality/traffic management, observed that the carrier has enormous incentives to monetize the scarcity of bandwidth that he himself can create by failing to invest adequately, and that the virtuous path was to cause ('incent' in the modern usage) the carrier to build more capacity and allow him to monetize the increase of traffic engendered by more and better applications. The opposite course is the one advocated by Ajit Pai, the Republican appointee to the FCC, and his ilk, which includes Senator Cruz.

The Internet, in order to maintain its original promise, needs the help of regulators who understand what it is and does, and why it does what it does. Some regulators appreciate its benefits, but few understand why it works. The constant whisperings in their ears from the carrier interests need to be countered by rational understanding of the goals of Internet design.

 

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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