I host a weekly webmasterradio.fm show called Webcology. Last week, WebmasterRadio asked if I would be part of a special series covering tech industry concerns and the coming US election. They didn’t need to dangle the promise of a couple high-powered interviews in front of me though it was nice of them to do so. They had me at, “Would you…?”.
We are working to create some truly interesting media files while getting a far deeper understanding of the real issues the tech industry faces over the next four to eight years. The most prominent and likely most complicated is that of Net Neutrality. It is a terribly important issue, if only for the energy being invested in both sides of the debate.
Net Neutrality is a set of principles which proponents want to see enshrined in law. One of those principles is that all data should be treated equally, regardless of file size, content type or source. Another principle states that Internet service providers should not be able to limit or deny access to content coming from a competitive source or be granted the right to charge extra fees for access to content sourced from other networks.
Others believe that any governmental regulation of the Internet will impede its development and evolution. There are currently no set of laws governing the growth of or behaviors on the Internet. The courts have looked to existing laws to form their opinions and have, for the most part, demonstrated an understanding of the law as it applies in cyberspace. Consumers have also learned to use the Internet as a powerful tool when keeping service providers in check, as demonstrated recently when Charter Communications suspended an invasive ad-targeting plan in the face of consumer concern.
Both sides of the net neutrality debate have compelling arguments and both believe they are acting to serve commercial, free-speech, and public-interests. The debate is set in stark, often divisive tones. Either one is for net neutrality, (in which one must accept governmental regulation of the Internet) or one is against net neutrality, (in which one must accept the prospect of an Internet divided between the largest telecommunications giants).
On yesterday’s Webcology show, we interviewed one of the heavyweights involved in the debate, Christopher Wolf from HandsofftheInternet.org. It was a most interesting interview telling a side of the debate not often heard in the search-media.
Mr. Wolf is co-chair of Hands off the Internet, a lobby effort aimed at preventing Internet regulation. He is a lawyer specializing in Internet and privacy law. He has been called an pioneer in the field of Internet law and is also the chair of the International Network Against Cyber-hate, a coalition of NGOs fighting hate speech online. Mr. Wolf also represented Valarie Plame and husband Joe Wilson after Ms. Plame was publicly identified by a source within the White House as a covert CIA officer. In other words, Mr. Wolf has some serious K street-cred.
Here is our interview with Christoper Wolf from yesterday’s show. Next week, we will have an interview with Craig Arron from the pro net neutrality group, Save the Internet.