The core principles that have guided our nation from its inception are as applicable to the Internet age as they were in the time of King George III.
In yesterday's Atlantic interview, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa issued a conservative call to action on Internet policy: "The tech world needs us." He's right. Companies seeking government benefits and progressive advocates seeking increased government control are driving the Internet policy agenda - and they are winning. Government control of communications is Dictatorship 101, yet conservatives have been largely absent from the key technology policy debates that are shaping our communications future. To preserve the ability to innovate without the permission of "kings, presidents, and voting," conservatives must heed Issa's call to defend the Internet from government control.
Where Have Conservatives Been?
Conservatives have failed to perceive the nature and extent of the threat to Internet freedom. Despite evergreen debate regarding the Internet's invention, the catalyst for its commercial development was bipartisan privatization and deregulation. Communications technologies have been heavily regulated in the United States since 1934, when Congress created the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Internet protocols and mobile communications technologies were both invented in the 1960s, and were subject to government regulation and control similar to traditional communications services until the 1990s, when they were largely deregulated during the Democratic Clinton Administration. Mobile service was deregulated in 1993, the National Science Foundation privatized the Internet backbone in 1995, and Congress declared that the Internet would not be subject to FCC regulation in 1996. When Congress deregulated mobile service providers, President Clinton said, "This plan creates the infrastructure to develop the most advanced commercial wireless communication networks the world has ever known. It will allow an industry to grow by tens of billions of dollars by the end of the decade, producing hundreds of thousands of new high-skilled, high-wage jobs."